The House of Representatives passed a bill to shore up oversight of home mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federally backed businesses that have been mired in accounting scandals and restatements.Under the legislation, a new, independent regulator will be created to oversee the businesses, and a portion of their profits will be set aside for an affordable housing fund (capped at $520 million). In the first year, the money would be earmarked for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

While the bill passed by a broad vote of 313-104 in the House, its chances of passage into law are more up in the air. A version of the bill in the Senate is markedly different, and the White House has voiced its disapproval of softened language when it comes to the independent  regulator's ability to limit the size of the loan portfolios of Fannie and Freddie.

Late last year, House Financial Services chair Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson agreed that a new regulator should have broad power to trim those investments -- though the decision over whether to actually take action would be left up to the regulator.

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