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U.S. Housing Bill Passes Senate Panel But Unlikely To Become Law

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WASHINGTON, May 15 (Reuters) - A Senate panel on Thursday approved legislation to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and redesign the U.S. mortgage finance system, but sparse support among Democrats means the measure is unlikely to make it into law.

The Democratic-controlled Senate Banking Committee approved the bill in a 13-9 vote, with only half of the panel's 12 Democrats voting in favor.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is unlikely to bring the measure up for a vote on the Senate floor, according to Senate aides who said it needed wider support among Democrats.

The vote is a major setback for the Obama administration, which helped craft the legislation and worked to build broad support for it, and it likely marks the final legislative action on housing finance reform this year.

"This bill represents our effort to draft the final chapter of financial reform by addressing the most significant unresolved issue from the financial crisis - the housing finance system," Democratic Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said before the vote.

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