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Andrew Harnik / AP

The issue:

One of President Trump's first executive actions in the Oval Office was to order HUD to suspend its planned 0.25% cut in the insurance fee it charges to participants in the Federal Housing Administration's mortgage program.

The facts:

FHA loans are a popular means for first-time homebuyers to finance their purchases. They allow buyers to put as little as 3.5% down, plus an upfront insurance premium of 1.75%. Thereafter the majority of borrowers are charged an annual fee of 0.85% of their loan, which helps the FHA compensate lenders when loans go bad.

The Obama administration's lowering of the fee would have saved the median homebuyer roughly $500 per year, though that can go higher or lower depending on the value of the home. Back in 2013, the FHA had to be bailed out to the tune of $1.7 billion when it insurance fund was exhausted, for the first time in its 80 year history. That's why fiscal conservatives are wary of lowering the insurance premium.

Why it matters:

$500 per year isn't a massive amount of money, but on the margin can be the deciding factor in whether a borrower can afford a home. It is a hint that the Trump administration will place fiscal responsibility over populist programs to support the working class. It's also a move that will disproportionately hit blue-state borrowers, as places like New York and California are home to expensive real estate markets.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.