Federal, Regulation

Watt confirmation to lead FHFA to come to Senate vote

Mel Watt

Mel Watt

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) is expected to be confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, after Senate Democrats led an effort to eliminate the use of the filibuster to block presidential nominees.

Senate Republicans blocked Watt’s nomination in October, saying he lacked the necessary qualifications—the first time since the Civil War that a sitting member of Congress was blocked from being voted on for an executive-appointed position, Politic365 reports.

Watt needed three votes—or 60 total—to break the filibuster and to move his confirmation forward, leading congressional Democrats to alter filibuster rules in the Senate last month. Under the new rules, only a simple majority is required to overcome a filibuster.

Watt said he was “insulted” when Republicans questioned his qualifications to “rationalize” their opposition, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Republicans blocked Watt’s nomination because they simply do not like the FHFA, according to Bloomberg.

Watt will replace FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco, who became acting director after the previous appointee resigned from the agency in 2009. A lawyer by profession, Watt was elected in 1992 and has served on the House Financial Services Committee and House Judiciary Committee, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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