- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2008

VICE PRESIDENT

Cheney schedules checkup

Vice President Dick Cheney will undergo his annual medical checkup on Saturday morning.

The checkup is routine, one Mr. Cheney usually has in July, said press secretary Megan Mitchell. “Overall, I think the vice president feels fine,” she said.

Mr. Cheney, 67, has a history of heart problems, including four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-clearing angioplasties and an operation to implant a defibrillator seven years ago.

After his physical examination last July, he had surgery to replace the defibrillator, which monitors his heartbeat. In November, he experienced an irregular heartbeat and doctors administered an electrical shock to his heart to restore it to a normal rhythm.

Ms. Mitchell said the physical would be conducted by doctors at George Washington University Hospital.

HOUSE

Rangel has 4 homes under rent control

Rep. Charles B. Rangel has four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, including one he uses as a campaign office, at a time when the city is experiencing a chronic shortage of low- and moderate-income housing.

The New York Democrat, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, held a news conference after the New York Times reported the story and said there’s nothing unfair about the arrangement.

“It is none of the New York Times’ business where I decide to live. Nor is it the New York Times’ business how much space I think I need,” he said.

Mr. Rangel pays about half the market rate for three adjacent units at the luxury Lenox Terrace complex, the Times reported. The fourth apartment, several floors below, is used as a campaign office. The city and state require that such apartments be used as primary residences.

Mr. Rangel’s monthly rent last year for all four units was $3,893, the paper said. The market rate would total about $7,500. Rangel’s net worth is between $566,000 and $1.2 million, according to congressional disclosure records.

SENATE

Senate passes mortgage bailout

A mortgage rescue to help hundreds of thousands of struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and get more affordable, safer loans passed the Senate overwhelmingly Friday, but it faces a bumpy road amid continuing turmoil in the housing market.

The 63-5 vote reflected a keen interest by Democrats and Republicans to send election-year help to distressed homeowners with economic issues topping voters’ concerns.

The plan lets homeowners buckling under mortgage payments keep their homes and get more affordable mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Banks that agreed to take substantial losses on those distressed loans could avoid costly foreclosures and be assured of recovering at least some money.

The new program would let the FHA insure as much as $300 billion in new mortgages, helping an estimated 400,000 homeowners. It still faces challenges, however, with the House planning to rewrite key details and the White House threatening a veto without major changes.

“It’s not the final stop, but it is a major stop in getting this bill done,” said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “For those who said this Congress cannot come together in a bipartisan fashion to do something responsible about housing, this bill does that.”

TREASURY

Budget deficit hits $268 billion

The Treasury Department says the federal deficit swelled to $268.7 billion in the first nine months of the budget year as record spending during the period outpaced revenue.

The department’s fresh look at the government’s balance sheets, released Friday, shows that the deficit for the budget year that began Oct. 1 was up sharply from the red ink of nearly $121 billion for the corresponding nine-month period last year.

The new year-to-date deficit was the third-highest on record. Spending totaled $2.2 trillion, while revenue came to $1.93 trillion.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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