Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill - 


BOB MOON: Mortgage applications are up for a third straight week. That doesn't necessarily signal rising home sales. It could just be people reapplying to clear tighter new lending hurdles. Others might be trying to get out from under costly subprime loans. Congress is still probing the risky practices that spawned the loan mess. Here's Steve Tripoli:

STEVE TRIPOLI: Congress' problem is that lending in today's mortgage markets involves a huge number of players. So, who's responsible and who, if anyone, do you target?

New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney chairs the subcommittee that's taking testimony this week. She says a suggested new guideline from the Federal Reserve is one more lenders should adopt.

CAROLYN MALONEY: If you cannot afford to pay for the loan, not just the beginning, this so-called teaser rate for two or three years, but the entire term of the loan, then it should not be given to someone over the entire term of the loan.

Maloney says Congress' patience on lending reform is limited. The private sector will get a chance to change things, she says.

MALONEY: But if they do not act, then Congress will have to act.

She says Congress may also be interested in a recommendation from consumer advocates. They want to hold investors in pools of mortgages accountable for illegal or abusive practices in the mortgages they buy.

I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.