North Carolina Cong. Mel Watt Confirmed to Head Federal Housing Finance Agency


On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, by a vote of 57 yeas to 41 nays, Congressman Melvin “Mel” Watt (NC) was confirmed by the full U.S. Senate to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  The NAACP had strongly and loudly supported Congressman Watt’s nomination, and we are joined by many others, including civil and human rights organizations, as well as consumer groups, and national industry groups representing realtors, bankers, builders, and others in commending the confirmation. 

Congressman Watt’s confirmation had been delayed on October 31, 2013, when the U.S. Senate failed to invoke cloture – thus ending debate on the subject and moving forward to a final vote – on the nomination.  At the time, 60 votes were needed to invoke cloture.  Not since 1843 has a Member of Congress been denied a seat in the President’s cabinet by a vote of the full U.S. Senate.  As a result of the change made last month to the cloture rules of the US Senate, however, only a clear majority of the Senators voting (in other words, 51 out of a possible 100 Senators) is now necessary to end debate and bring up a Presidential executive branch nomination for consideration (the change in the rules applied only to executive nominees and judicial nominees, with the exception of nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court).  Thus the nomination of Cong. Watt’s nomination was reconsidered.

The FHFA is a hugely important federal regulatory entity which oversees nearly 80% of mortgages in the U.S. today. Specifically, the FHFA supervises America’s secondary mortgage markets, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Banks, and 14 housing-related GSEs. Mel Watts’ confirmation is essential to finally getting housing mortgages out of crisis, to getting real help to homeowners facing foreclosure, and to assisting qualified buyers to get into sustainable mortgages they can afford.

With over 40 years of experience in the housing and financial services arenas including 20 on the House Financial Services and Judiciary Committees, Congressman Watt will serve the nation exceptionally fairly and well.  Furthermore, as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2005 – 2006, Congressman Watt proved himself extremely adept at forging coalitions and promoting the interests of all Americans, including racial and ethnic minority Americans.  Furthermore, he has the depth to grasp the problems that plague Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and lead to the housing crisis which still curses too many of our communities while working to stop predatory lenders; and has the skills to work with everyone involved to get the housing sector back on track.