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Obama housing aide steps down from post

David Stevens, a key adviser to President Obama on housing policy, said Thursday that he plans to step down as head of the Federal Housing Administration in mid-April.

Mr. Stevens, a former mortgage banker who took office in July 2009, has overseen an agency that has become an increasingly large prop for the battered U.S. housing market. FHA insures about one-third of all new home purchase loans, compared with less than 4 percent before the housing bust, according to industry publication Inside Mortgage Finance.

He steps down just as a debate heats up over how much support the government should provide the housing market over the long term.

“This is just the right time to transition and to get some fresh legs here,” Mr. Stevens told Reuters in a brief telephone interview.

He was instrumental in drafting three proposals released by the Obama administration last month for eventually replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants the government seized at the height of the financial crisis.

Mr. Stevens served as a senior vice president for single-family loans at Freddie Mac from 1998 to 2005.


Federal prisons out of execution drug

COLUMBUS, Ohio | U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. says the federal prisons department has run out of a key execution drug and is exploring alternatives, dashing states’ hopes of obtaining a federal supply of the drug.

Mr. Holder said the lack of sodium thiopental is a serious concern that the government is analyzing.

Mr. Holder wrote a March 4 letter to states that was obtained by the Associated Press. In it, he says federal officials are looking at options, including changes to federal execution procedures.

The immediate impact of the federal shortage is minimal. A lawsuit is challenging the federal government’s injection procedures, and the U.S. government has not executed anyone since 2003.


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