White House mounts push to win confirmation for housing nominee
WASHINGTON Oct 28 (Reuters) - White House officials will meet with financial industry representatives later on Monday to enlist support in a fresh push to win Senate confirmation for President Barack Obama's nominee to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Obama nominated Representative Mel Watt to replace Edward DeMarco as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency on May 1, but the nomination has stalled due to stiff Republican opposition. However, a Senate Democratic leadership aide said it was possible it could come up for a vote this week.
Watt, a North Carolina Democrat, can expect strong backing from Democrats, who will control 55 votes once Senator-elect Cory Booker of New Jersey takes office on Thursday. But he would need to gain 60 votes in the 100-seat chamber to overcome procedural hurdles and move to a final up-or-down vote.
Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina is the sole Republican to have endorsed Watt publicly. Many Republicans argue that he lacks the technical expertise on housing finance to oversee the nation's two largest mortgage finance firms.
The Obama administration will hold the get-together with financial industry groups late on Monday, the sources familiar with the matter said. The group will convene at the White House with Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council, and senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.
The session's goal is to bring the housing and financial industry on board to pressure Senate Republicans into allowing the Senate to move directly to a final vote.
The Senate Banking Committee advanced Watt's nomination on a party-line vote in July, but Democrats have not been able to drum up enough Republican support to bring the Watt nomination to the floor.
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