U.S. Senate confirms Federal Housing Administration chief

WASHINGTON Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:45pm EST

WASHINGTON Dec 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Sunday confirmed the head of the Federal Housing Administration in her position despite mounting losses from souring loans at the mortgage funding agency that some fear could eventually lead to a taxpayer bailout.

In a 69-24 vote, the Senate confirmed Carol Galante as an assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Galante had been running the FHA in an acting capacity since July 2011.

The FHA, a key source of mortgage funding for first-time home buyers and those with modest incomes, backs $1.1 trillion in U.S. home mortgages. Last month it reported a projected shortfall of $16.3 billion due to souring loans that it insured during the housing market downturn during the past several years.

An independent audit suggested that the FHA would require taxpayer funding for the first time in its 78 years, though that won't be decided until February when the Obama administration releases its budget.