WASHINGTON - President Bush has signed into law the $300 billion omnibus housing bill, which will provide state housing finance agencies with an additional $11 billion in private-activity bonds to refinance subprime mortgages as well as provide loans to first-time homebuyers and permanently exempt all housing bonds from the alternative minimum tax.

Bush signed the bill early yesterday morning in a significant departure from his initial threat to veto the measure. Originally, the administration said the bill contained provisions, such as $4 billion in community development block grant funds, that aided private lenders instead of struggling homeowners, the intended target of the legislation.

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