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House Panel Agrees on Countrywide Subpoenas

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee agreed Friday night to demand loan information related to all House Members, House aides and federal employees in a seven-page subpoena targeting a VIP program offered by the mortgage lender Countrywide.According to a statement Friday night by ranking member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the panel has agreed to seek “all documents, including e-mails, for covered VIP borrowers.—The committee’s “covered borrowers— include any House lawmaker, all House employees, any federal agency officer or employee, and state or local government employees.Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) announced Friday that the panel would launch an investigation of mortgage lenders, including the Countrywide VIP loan program that Issa has pursued for months without the panel’s formal blessing.In a statement posted earlier Friday on the committee’s Web site, Towns said the panel would subpoena records from Countrywide’s VIP loans, now owned by Bank of America, as part of an investigation that will focus on “deceptive and predatory lending practices,— as well as whether mortgage companies deployed “improper tactics to thwart regulation.—The New York lawmaker’s announcement came amid partisan tensions over Issa’s demand to subpoena Countrywide, including an incident this week in which Democratic staff changed the locks on the door Republicans use to access the main committee chamber and declined to provide the minority staff with new keys.

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