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Cornyn Wants Amendment on Mortgage Disclosure

Senate Ethics Committee ranking member John Cornyn (R-Texas) plans to introduce an amendment to the housing bill that would require Senators to list their residential mortgages as liabilities on their financial disclosure forms.

The amendment, a GOP source said, has the support of Senate Ethics Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and the four other members of the panel.

Senators would be required, starting in 2009, to disclose the date the mortgage was acquired, the rough amount, the interest rate, the term and the name and address of the creditor.

The proposal appears designed to address the fallout from the revelation that Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the housing bill’s sponsor, and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) received favorable mortgages from Countrywide Financial.

But it’s unclear whether the Cornyn amendment will be ruled germane under the agreement reached by Republicans and Democrats to advance the housing bill and allow relevant amendments to be debated.

One controversial amendment proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) most likely will be taken off the table, a Senate Democratic aide said Tuesday.

Republicans have objected to the Sanders amendment, contending that it was not part of the arrangement between Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow only germane amendments to be debated. However, the parliamentarian ruled that the amendment was appropriate.

Also on Tuesday morning, Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) offered an amendment to the housing bill that would provide tax credits for renewable energy. The two Senators offered the amendment on a previous housing package that was passed in April.

It is unclear how the leaders will deal with the Ensign-Cantwell amendment, but it would nevertheless be ruled as not related to the housing bill, according to a Senate source.

Cantwell acknowledged that there would be some frustration because of the amendment from her energy colleagues, but the rising energy costs must be addressed.

John Stanton contributed to this report.

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