The U.S. Senate could vote as early as December 10 to confirm Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) as the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the agency that regulates the government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The change of Senate filibuster rules that occurred on November 21 means that Mr. Watt’s confirmation is likely. It had been blocked earlier by a minority of Senators in a vote on October 31 (see Memo, 11/22).
Housing advocates are looking to Mr. Watt to change the direction of the agency. The current FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco have implemented a number of policies that reduced access to affordable housing for low and moderate income Americans. These include reducing Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s involvement in the multifamily market, restrictions on borrowers’ access to credit, and a refusal to adopt any principal reduction strategy for underwater mortgage holders.
NLIHC is particularly interested in FHFA reconsidering the 2008 decision to temporarily suspend funds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to go to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), as required by the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act. Now that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reporting booming profits, NLIHC contends that contributions to the NHTF should begin immediately. Mr. Watt would have the authority to lift the suspension if confirmed as director (see Memo, 7/12).
Look for a Call to Action from NLIHC asking constituents to urge all Senators to support Mr. Watt’s confirmation to lead the FHFA.