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‘No’ vote urged on Rep. Mel Watt to oversee Fannie, Freddie

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Friday, July 19, 2013, at 11:57 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at 6:34 p.m.

— The Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group, is urging senators to oppose Rep. Mel Watt’s nomination to director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Watt, D-N.C., who was recommended in a 12-10 vote Thursday before the Senate banking committee, faces strong opposition from Republican lawmakers who both support current FHFA director Ed DeMarco and who say Watt doesn’t have appropriate experience to head an organization that is directly in charge of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Club for Growth argued that it is inappropriate for a politician advocating for more federal involvement to be head of this agency and said the goal of the director must be to privatize Fannie and Freddie and shut down the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

"The director of the FHFA has immense power over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As the lead regulator of these two entities, and their trillion-dollar assets, the FHFA director must be a strong advocate for taxpayers who are at risk for the(government-sponsored enterprise)’s business activities. So 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," Club for Growth said in a statement.

The organization says it will include the Watt vote on its congressional scorecard, which tracks voting records in Congress to share with supporters.

In Watt’s confirmation hearing in June, he was informed Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., that his goal as head of the FHFA would essentially be to eliminate the agency he would be in charge of and to privatize Fannie and Freddie.

"I’d be delighted to make that happen,” Watt said at the time. “Putting me out of a job would mean we’ve gotten through this transition.”

Email: kthibodeaux@mcclatchydc.com

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