Senate Confirms Rep. Mel Watt to Head FHFA

The North Carolina Democrat was finally confirmed to lead the agency that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after seven months of filibustering by Republicans. 

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President Barack Obama congratulates Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) after nominating him to be the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) has finally been confirmed to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency after months of filibustering by Republicans, who claimed that the North Carolina Democrat didn't have enough experience.

Democrats argued that Republicans were using the stall tactic to undermine the president, who nominated Watt some seven months ago to head the agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Last month, Democrats adjusted filibustering rules to stop Republicans who continuously blocked several of the president's nominees, and in so doing were able to push President Obama's lead pick for the housing regulation agency through the Senate late Tuesday.

Senators confirmed Watt, who was initially nominated in May, 57-40, the Associated Press reports.

"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," the president said in a statement released to the media. 

"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."

Initially, Democrats needed 60 Senate votes to end a GOP filibuster—an impossible number without support of the chamber's 45 Republicans. But last month, the Democrats lowered that threshold to a simple majority.

According to AP, the Senate also confirmed another top Obama pick whose confirmation had been stalled. Patricia Millett is set to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Read more at the Associated Press.

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