Sen. Kirk votes to block new leadership of housing regulator

Confirmation vote of Congressman Mel Watt as Federal Housing Finance Agency director will not proceed

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) voted today to filibuster a vote on President Obama’s nomination of Congressman Mel Watt as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The motion to allow Congressman Watt’s confirmation vote failed on a vote of 56-42 (60 votes are necessary to proceed). The FHFA is a powerful agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which invests in more than three-fourths of the nation’s new mortgages. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) voted against the filibuster.

“We are deeply disappointed in Sen. Kirk’s decision to block an up-or-down vote on Congressman Watt’s confirmation,” says Dory Rand, president of Woodstock Institute. “Blocking the confirmation of a sitting member of Congress is almost unprecedented. Congressman Watt is an eminently qualified candidate to lead the FHFA, with more than four decades of experience as a Congressman focusing on financial issues and as a small business and real estate lawyer.”

“The current acting director of FHFA’s  poor decisions are holding communities back from recovering from the foreclosure crisis,” says Rand. “The FHFA sued the City of Chicago in order to avoid maintenance standards for vacant homes with Fannie- and Freddie-backed mortgages. Ed DeMarco refuses to implement effective solutions to prevent foreclosures on underwater homes. Illinois homeowners need an FHFA director, like Congressman Watt, with the vision to jump-start the housing market in communities that need it most. Sen. Kirk, unfortunately, did not stand with Illinois homeowners today.”

“We thank Sen. Durbin for voting against the filibuster regarding confirmation of Congressman Watt today,” says Rand. “He joined the diverse ranks of consumers and housing industry representatives who agree that Congressman Watt is the right choice to lead the FHFA.”

For more information, contact Katie Buitrago at kbuitrago@woodstockinst.org or 513-227-2853.