WASHINGTON Oct 30 The Obama administration
expressed concern on Wednesday that Republicans may block a vote
in the U.S. Senate on the nomination of the president's choice
to regulate mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
A Senate Democratic leadership aide said a procedural vote
on the nomination of Representative Mel Watt to head the Federal
Housing Finance Agency is expected to take place some time on
The vote on Watt is expected to win the support of all
Democrats and the two independents who vote with them, a total
of 55, if New Jersey Senator-elect Cory Booker is sworn in in
However, a senior Democratic aide said it is unknown how
much Republican support Watt would get. The North Carolina
Democrat needs to gain 60 votes in the 100-seat chamber to
overcome Republican hurdles and move to a final up-or-down vote.
"There is talk that in the Senate tomorrow that people will
refuse to even allow him an up-or-down vote," White House
National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling told reporters.
Sperling said the administration believes there are
Republicans who will support Watt's nomination, but does not
know how many.
"We do not have an exact vote count but we are working hard
to make sure that there is the adequate support for Mel Watt to
be confirmed," Sperling told reporters on a conference call.
Sperling and Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan urged the
Senate to allow such a vote on Watt, who has a long record on
the House Financial Services Committee.
"If one thing is clear it's that Mel Watt deserves an up or
down vote," Sperling said.
Obama nominated Watt to replace Edward DeMarco as head of
the FHFA on May 1, but the nomination has stalled.
The White House met earlier this week with housing and
financial services groups to try to get them to pressure Senate
Republicans into allowing the chamber to move directly to a