Congress Weighs New Regulations Amid Crisis

WASHINGTON — A Congress criticized for being asleep at the switch as financial problems festered on Wall Street now is eyeing tough new regulations for investment banks. It’s also exploring a new government role in the mortgage market.

Lawmakers may impose much stiffer regulations to put a stop to the array of financial products and practices that have some of Wall Street’s institutions on the brink of failure.

They’re also weighing what to do with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Options include taking them private, morphing them into a public utility or federal agency, or leaving them as government-sponsored entities with private shareholders and profits, but tougher regulations.

But with just seven weeks until Election Day and lawmakers focused on campaigning, there’s no chance anything happens this year.