Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling urged the Senate to confirm Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
“Confirming Mel Watt is a top economic priority for this White House,” Sperling said Wednesday on an on-the-record press call. “Having Mel Watt confirmed in this important role will create much-needed certainty for our housing market and will give us a much better foundation from which to implement much needed … legislative reform.”
President Barack Obama nominated the 20-year political veteran for the position, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in May. Watt’s nomination was met with Republican backlash, with opponents citing Watt’s lack of financial experience, to which the administration responded.
“There is simply no reason for anyone to be opposing [Watt],” Sperling said. “It’s almost unprecedented for a sitting member of Congress to be filibustered.”
According to Sperling, the president intends to stick to Watt’s nomination, since there is no reason a cloture vote (which would require only 60 yeas for the nomination to pass) should fail. Such a vote is expected to occur Thursday, and Sperling is confident that the Democrats will get enough Republican votes to push the nomination through. “The Republican senator from Mel Watts’ home state, [Sen. Richard Burr], has explicitly supported his nomination.”
According to Politico, however, the Democrats have yet to procure the votes needed to pass Watt through the nomination, being short by a couple of votes.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is one who won’t be voting for Watt. “I absolutely hope that he’s not confirmed,” he said.
Monday, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture for Watts’ nomination, taking the necessary step to push the vote to the floor. It is clear to all involved, however, that the vote could be an extremely close one.
“It’ll be within a vote or two — maybe three,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said, according to Politico.