Earlier Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) managed to push through a controversial change to Senate rules, now requiring only a bare majority, as opposed to 60 votes, in order to confirm nominees.
This all but guarantees that president Obama’s picks for various positions will fly through, with the Democrats holding the majority with 55 out of 100 votes. Before the rule change, Republicans had managed to block several of the president’s nominees.
Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), picked by Obama to control the Federal Housing Finance Agency that regulates the titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is one of those nominees previously blocked.
It is believed that if Watt is confirmed, he could pave the way for greater mortgage relief, a move that is tune with the White House agenda, Reuters reports.
The rule change was the last resort for Senate Democrats, frustrated by Republicans’ insistent blocking of Obama nominees.
Other blocked picks have included Washington, D.C., district court judge Robert Wilkins, Georgetown University Law professor Cornelia Pillard and attorney Patricia Millet, all delayed in being confirmed to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In Watts’ case, Republicans were particularly fond of the current head of the FHFA, Edward DeMarco, who is known to have clashed with the Obama administration on the relief programs that Watt promised to push through.
Republicans then successfully blocked Watt’s nomination last month, marking the first time since the Civil War that a sitting member of Congress was not confirmed by the Senate.
Read more at Reuters.