Ensign’s housing plan voted down | NevadaAppeal.com

Ensign’s housing plan voted down

Associated Press

A proposal by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., which was designed to reduce mortgage rates to as low as 4 percent for millions of homeowners, was defeated on a vote of 62-35, largely along party lines.

The Republican’s proposal was designed to reduce mortgage rates to as low as 4 percent for millions of homeowners. It was defeated on a vote of 62-35.

Ensign’s bill included incentives to lenders to increase loan modifications for those facing foreclosure and various tax breaks for business and low and middle-class families.

Senate moderates struggled for a compromise on economic stimulus legislation Thursday as the government spit out grim new jobless figures and President Barack Obama warned of more bad news ahead.

With partisan tensions rising, several Republican attempts to remake the bill failed on party-line votes.

“This is the moment for leadership that matches the great test of our time,” Obama said Thursday night as the Senate plodded through a fourth day of debate on the legislation at the heart of his economic recovery plan. Earlier, he declared, “The time for talk is over. The time for action is now.”

The president added he would “love to see additional improvements” in the bill, a gesture to the moderates from both parties who were at work trying to trim the bill with a newly recalculated, $937 billion price tag.

After fitful, secretive talks lasting well into the evening,

the would-be compromisers remained shy of agreement, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced they could have another day to work at it.

The events that mattered most were not the long roll calls on the Senate floor, but the private conversations in which the White House and Democratic leaders sought ” either with the support of a large group of centrist lawmakers or without them ” to clear the bill.

Either approach remained a possibility for the Democratic leadership. One path could lead to passage with as few as 60 votes, the minimum needed, while the other presented the opportunity for a larger bipartisan success for the young administration.

“As I have explained to people in that group, they cannot hold the president of the United States hostage,” said Reid, D-Nev. “If they think they’re going to rewrite this bill and Barack Obama is going to walk away from what he is trying to do for the American people, they’ve got another thought coming.”

Republicans countered that neither the president nor Democratic congressional leaders have been willing to seek common ground on the first major bill of the new administration.

“We’re not having meaningful negotiations. … It’s a bad way to start,” said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama’s opponent in last fall’s presidential campaign.