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Watt appointment seen as major boost to U.S. Housing market

23rd December 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Hazel Trice Edney
Contributing Writer

(TriceEdneyWire) – U. S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), initially snubbed by U. S. Senate Repub­licans for the position of director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), has now been confirmed by the Senate after a partisan political battle.

“I am elated that after months of uncertainty and obstruction, the U.S. Senate has finally confirmed Congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Mel has over 40 years of experience on issues related to housing – 20 as my friend and colleague on the Financial Services Committee and 22 as an attorney dealing largely in real estate. He is highly respected on both sides of the aisle, and well-regarded as a legislator focused on openness, collaboration and good public policy. Moreover, he knows how to get things done,” says Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) in a statement.

“I believe Mel Watt has the vision, experience and temperament necessary to ensure the FHFA remains focused on the long-term stability of the economy and the housing finance system. This is particularly needed as Congress begins to consider reforming the $10 trillion secondary mortgage market,” Waters said.

The day before the confirmation, Waters led all 27 of Watt’s Demo­cratic colleagues on the House Com­mittee on Financial Services in a letter to Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McCon­nell (R-Ky.) pushing for his confirmation.

President Obama’s nomination of the 21-year Democratic congressman was rejected by the Republican members of the Senate who refused to support advancing the nomination to a vote in October. Following this fight, the Senate altered its rules to require only a simple majority to approve executive branch officials and most judicial nominations instead of 60 votes.

President Obama, obviously delighted by the confirmation, has great expectations of Watt as the housing market continues to heal five years after it nearly brought the U. S. economy.

“Seven months ago, I nominated Mel to lead the agency charged with looking out for hardworking families by enforcing rules of the road for the mortgage industry. And today, he’s finally been confirmed to do that job. Mel comes from humble roots. He’s represented the people of North Carolina in Congress for 20 years. He’s the right person to protect Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day, and he’ll be the right regulator to make sure the kind of crisis we just went through never happens again.”

The Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders chimed in.

“Congressman Watt will be an exceptional leader of this agency, safeguarding policies that protect consumers and ensuring lender accountability,” says Congressional Black Caucus Chair Fudge in a statement.

Watt, a Yale Law School graduate, specializes in corporate and real estate law. He is a member of the House Committees on Financial Services and the Judiciary.

This article originally published in the December 23, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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