Mel Watt will head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) after all.
Utilizing newly eased filibuster rules, the Senate voted 57 to 41 to confirm Watt to the post, ending a battle over leadership of the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Republicans blocked a vote on his confirmation in October. Democrats countered by lowering the threshold needed to end a filibuster.
“Today’s confirmation of Mel Watt represents an important step for our housing market's continued recovery,” said Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. in a statement. “After decades in both the public and private sectors, Mel has developed a proven track record of protecting consumers, fighting abuses, championing economic growth and working across the aisle on important issues that benefit the common good.”
The National Housing Conference was among the affordable housing groups voicing support for Watt’s confirmation.
“We’re pleased to see this leadership from the Senate in confirming someone with a strong track record of support for housing to this position,” said Chris Estes, president and CEO of NHC, a nonprofit policy, advocacy and research organization. “Senate confirmation of Rep. Watt makes way for the agency to take a new direction toward fulfilling the housing needs of all in America.”
In his new role, Watt will have a critical role in deciding the future of Fannie and Freddie. Housing finance reform, including the funding of the National Housing Trust Fund, will be major issues for him in the coming year.
A Democrat from North Carolina, Watt has served in the House of Representatives since 1993.