April 4, 2019 / 7:26 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. Senate confirms housing regulator overseeing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mark Calabria, who was confirmed by a vote of 52-44, steps into a critical role in housing finance as Washington is renewing its efforts to overhaul the current system.

As FHFA director, Calabria will be charged with overseeing the two government-sponsored enterprises, which guarantee over half of the nation’s mortgages. The two have been held in government conservatorship since 2008, after the once-private entities had to be rescued from collapse during the subprime mortgage crisis.

Calabria, a libertarian economist who has advocated for a minimal government role in the housing market, will now directly manage Fannie and Freddie. He previously served as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief economist.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree the current system, with Fannie and Freddie on a federal lifeline, is unsustainable, but Congress has struggled for years to advance any comprehensive reforms. Lawmakers are currently soliciting input for future reforms in an effort to keeping housing affordable while reducing the footprint of Fannie and Freddie.

In March, Trump signed an executive order directing the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development Departments to develop recommendations for overhauling the housing market.

Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Peter Cooney and Tom Brown

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