It was a long slog to the government’s mortgage abuse settlement with top banks, one in which officials slept in their offices and worked round the clock. And yet, a consumer advocate looking out for those who lost homes to foreclosure can only muster an “it’s okay.”

You don’t need an expert to tell you how little of a dent the $25 billion deal makes in a mortgage morass that President Obama reminded us is one of the biggest drags on the economy. It took 16 months to get to a settlement that helps roughly 1 million borrowers, while 11 million Americans owe more money that what their homes are worth. People who lost their homes to foreclosures will get payments of $2,000. Home prices, meanwhile, are still 33 percent lower than 2006.

It’s a lot of work for a little relief. But if there is one constituent that walks away satisfied it has to be the state of California. Attorney General Kamala Harris held out for a better deal right to the end. What she won was 45 percent of the settlement spoils, and she only came to the table with a third of the nation’s foreclosures in her portfolio. It pays to play hard to get.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

U.S. banks agree to $25 billion in homeowner help

Five big U.S. banks accused of abusive mortgage practices have agreed to a $25 billion government settlement that may help roughly one million borrowers but is no magic bullet for the ailing housing market. The record state-federal settlement will spread relief widely in the form of mortgage relief and $2,000 payments to borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure.

For more of this story by Aruna Viswanatha, read here.

For a factbox on U.S. efforts to combat foreclosures, read here.

Biden says contraceptives fight can be worked out

Vice President Joe Biden said the White House was working to address concerns raised by the Catholic church over a new rule on contraceptives, and he believed an escalating election-year battle over the issue would be resolved. Top Republicans, including the party’s presidential candidates have condemned the rule as an assault on religious liberty. Prominent Democrats and women’s health groups have urged President Barack Obama to hold his ground.