updated 3/5/2009 6:32:22 PM ET 2009-03-05T23:32:22

The House has passed legislation to give debt-strapped homeowners a chance to win lower mortgage payments through bankruptcy courts.

The vote was 234-191 to approve the measure. It faces a tough road in the Senate, where Republicans and some Democrats oppose the idea.

The bill gives bankruptcy judges new power to reduce the interest rate and principal on a home mortgage. It's part of President Obama's housing rescue plan.

Supporters see it as a crucial tool to prod banks to negotiate with homeowners for more affordable terms. Critics say it will create a flood of bankruptcy filings that will drive up mortgage rates and further destabilize the battered housing market.

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Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%
Source: Bankrate.com