Democrats Fret Over Watt's Confirmation to Housing Agency

Image: Democrats Fret Over Watt's Confirmation to Housing Agency

Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013 01:10 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Concern is growing that Rep. Mel Watt won't make the cut as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, after Democrats backed away from adding his name to a list of nominees to be confirmed before the August recess.

The delay of the vote by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for Watt's nomination suggests that the North Carolina Democrat may not have the 60 votes needed in the Senate to avoid a Republican-led filibuster, Politico reports.

Republicans are questioning Watt's qualifications for the position, especially given the fact that he will be responsible for giving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a much smaller role in the housing market.

President Barak Obama gave a speech on Tuesday on new housing reforms, including ending "Fannie and Freddie as we know them" after citing the negative effect these two "government-sponsored enterprises" have had on the housing market and the mortgage industry.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's spokesman, Don Stewart told Politico the decision on Watt's nomination is up to Reid. "But obviously the nomination of a politician rather than an expert in such an important field is controversial," he added.

Stewart said Watt is "a particularly bad fit given the president's announcement that he wants to join the bipartisan effort to wind down Fannie [and] Freddie."

During his Tuesday speech, Obama insisted Watt is "the right person for the job."

"Congress and the Senate should give his nomination an up-or-down vote without any more obstruction or delay," the president said. "We don't have time for those kinds of games."

Watt is appealing to Congressional Black Caucus members for their support and lobbying senators from their states to push for his confirmation.

Watt was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in July on a 12-10 party-line vote.


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