WASHINGTON – Federal taxpayers should stop propping up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Congress will wean the country away from its reliance on the two huge but fiscally feeble housing finance companies, House Republicans said Wednesday.

Democrats conceded that changes are needed in Fannie and Freddie, which have swallowed $150 billion in federal aid since the government took them over in September 2008. But they cautioned that care must be taken to avoid jeopardizing the popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and the access to the housing market that the two companies have helped provide to millions of moderate-income families.

The lawmakers made those points at a hearing Wednesday of the House Financial Services subcommittee that oversees the two housing giants.