Club for Growth presses Republicans to block U.S. housing nominee
WASHINGTON Oct 29 (Reuters) - An influential conservative group on Tuesday urged Republicans to block the White House's pick to head the regulator for mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac..
The Club for Growth's effort to defeat the nomination of Representative Mel Watt could make it hard for the White House and Senate Democrats to secure the Republican support needed to overcome procedural hurdles to a final vote.
Obama nominated the North Carolina Democrat to head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency on May 1, but the nomination has stalled due to Republican resistance.
Many Republicans contend that he lacks the technical expertise on housing finance to oversee the nation's two largest mortgage finance firms and they do not find it fit for a lawmaker to fill the role.
"It is entirely inappropriate for a politician to fill this role who has explicitly advocated for greater involvement by the federal government in the mortgage industry," the Club for Growth said.
The Club for Growth has made a name for itself by targeting moderate Republicans at the polls in an effort to push the party farther to the right on economic issues.
The White House has mounted a fresh push to get Watt confirmed, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday said the Senate would vote soon to try to clear the way to final consideration. A vote could come as early as Thursday.
Analysts have said Watt is at least four votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome Republican hurdles and move to a final up-or-down vote, despite some growing optimism that the White House may have gained at least two unknown Republican backers in recent weeks.
Democrats will control 55 votes once Senator-elect Cory Booker of New Jersey takes office on Thursday.
Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina is the sole Republican to have endorsed Watt publicly. Many Republicans contend that he lacks the technical expertise on housing finance to oversee the nation's two largest mortgage finance firms.
"The Club for Growth's restatement of opposition further solidifies the opposition from conservatives and makes it more difficult to confirm the White House's nominee," said Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst with Compass Point Research and Trading. "Right now, Watt's nomination does not have the 60 votes necessary but the situation remains incredibly fluid."
If confirmed, Watt would oversee taxypayer-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - the nation's two-largest mortgage finance firms - just as Congress is making progress on legislation to reform the broader housing finance system.
In addition to calling for Watt's defeat, the Club for Growth said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be privatized and their regulator should be shut down.
The group said Watt's support for aggressive mortgage relief, including principal reduction programs, and other policies he has previously endorsed as a lawmaker would put taxpayers at risk if he were to head the FHFA.
- Pennsylvania newlyweds "just wanted to murder someone together:" police
- U.S. war veteran released by North Korea returns home |
- WTO overcomes last minute hitch to reach its first global trade deal
- Ice storm causes blackouts, delays in Texas, Arkansas
- China's parliament: Japan has "no right to criticize" air defense zone