Mel Watt Confirmed as Head of Federal Housing Finance Agency

Obama promises that the new leadership will help create an agency that Americans can be proud of

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Seven months after being nominated by President Obama to lead the agency charged with enforcing the rules of the mortgage industry, North Carolina Democratic Congressman Mel Watt has been confirmed as the head of the Federal Housing Agency Tuesday by a 57-41 margin. The agency regulates federal home-loan banks.

“As we turn the page on the bubble-and-bust mentality that created this mess, we have to build a housing system that’s rock-solid and rewards responsibility for future generations of American homebuyers so that a home is what it’s always been: a source of pride and middle-class security,” said President Obama of the confirmation. “That’s where Mel Watt comes in.”

Senate Republicans blocked Watt’s nomination in October, claiming he was unqualified. Watt was confirmed today thanks, in part, to the elimination of the filibuster rule last month. Under the new rules, just a majority of senators have to agree to proceed to final debate in most confirmation votes.

Before becoming a congressman, Watt was an economic development attorney and small business owner in North Carolina. He has played an instrumental role in Congress’s efforts to crack down on anti-predatory lending practices.

“Hailing from a district with the most banking and financial institutions outside of Wall Street, he is uniquely suited to the task of striking a much-needed balance between credible financial industry concerns and the security of American consumers and homeowners,” said former speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Tuesday’s confirmation votes were the first of several planned in the next few days before the Senate adjourns next week for the Christmas holiday.