Rep. Watt considered to lead housing regulator -report

WASHINGTON, March 15 Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:36pm EDT

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - The White House is considering naming Representative Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Friday.

A decision could come as soon as April, WSJ said on its website, citing a person familiar with the matter.

If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Watt would bring his experience as a long-time member of the House Financial Services Committee to the agency that oversees the two companies, which own or guarantee half of all U.S. mortgages.

Fannie and Freddie were seized by the government and placed into a conservatorship in 2008 after mortgage losses threatened their solvency.

Current acting director Edward DeMarco has served in the post since 2009.

DeMarco has been criticized for his refusal to permit the mortgage finance companies to write down loan principal for troubled borrowers, a decision he argues he took to protect taxpayers.

Watt, a North Carolina Democrat, has pushed for better access to mortgage loans for minority and low-income consumers, WSJ said.

President Barack Obama previously tried to name a permanent director, but Republicans blocked his nominee.

A representative for Watt said he had no comment at this time. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.