WASHINGTON - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that before the Bush administration seeks access to the remainder of a $700 billion financial-rescue fund Congress should specify that the money be used to reduce mortgage foreclosures.

The Treasury Department has come under bipartisan criticism in Congress for shifting its strategy away from making large purchases of troubled mortgage assets. A Government Accountability Office report and a congressional oversight panel both raised questions about the Treasury's approach and whether it was living up to congressional expectations.

"It wasn't only until we intensified the provisions that related to keeping people in their homes that this legislation even passed the House of Representatives," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters yesterday. "But it has been totally ignored by the administration."

The Treasury has spent much of the first $350 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program on injecting capital into financial institutions to help ease the credit crunch.

Pelosi said she has spoken to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., about the possibility of drafting new legislation to specify the need to ease foreclosures.

The Bush administration could seek access to the second half of the TARP money between now and Jan. 20, when President-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office. Congress has 15 days to reject such a request. *