Senate rule change opens door for Watt confirmation: report
Is Edward DeMarco, the current head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, now living on borrowed time?
It appears so: rule changes put into play by the Senate Thursday will make it more difficult to block nominees. In particular, Democrats appear focused on approving Mel Watt to run the government agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Previously, 60 votes were needed to clear procedural hurdles in the 100-seat Senate. Now, a simple majority suffices for all but Supreme Court nominees - a change that virtually guarantees Watt's confirmation given that Democrats control 55 votes.
Homeowner and consumer advocacy groups have lobbied hard for Watt's approval. They argue that DeMarco, who became the FHFA's acting director in 2009, has not implemented programs that could help borrowers who are having trouble making mortgage payments.
Analysts expect Watt to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to forgive loan principal for Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth - a step the White House has advocated but one that DeMarco had refused to take.