Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has introduced the Rebuilding American Homeownership Act, which aims to provide new home refinancing options to put more money back in the pockets of middle-class households. The bill would enable underwater homeowners who currently have no option to refinance to lock into a lower interest rate and reduce their monthly payments. Merkley has also taken the wraps off the Rebuilding Equity Act, which would cover closing costs for underwater homeowners who refinance into shorter-term loans to rebuild their equity more quickly. Merkley stated, "Homeownership is the greatest wealth-building tool the middle class has ever known. But in the Great Recession, this wealth-building tool was turned upside down and exploited by predatory lenders, and now too many families are stuck underwater in high-interest loans." More than 1 million families are still making payments on mortgages with interest rates over 6 percent with no option to refinance due to the fact that only loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac qualify for current refinance programs.