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Democrats seek recess appointment of permanent FHFA director

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Democratic representatives from California sent President Barack Obama a letter asking him to nominate a permanent director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The 28 legislators, led by Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., want the president to bypass the Senate for the recess appointment, similar to what he did earlier in January with the installation of Richard Cordray as Consumer Finance Protection Bureau director. "For two and a half years, Senate Republicans have been blocking the appointment of this position," the letter said. "It is time to move forward and put in place a permanent FHFA Director." Cardoza's office, in particular, took issue with the inaction of the FHFA under Acting Director Ed DeMarco, who said in October that the conservator would not consider principal write-downs on underwater homes. The Obama administration has said no plans for massive refinancing are in the works. "It is clear that we must take immediate steps to prevent more foreclosures," the letter from House Democrats said. "FHFA has consistently and erroneously interpreted its mandate far too narrowly and as such has failed to take adequate action to help homeowners." Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst for Guggenheim Securities, said the Cordray appointment opens the door to do the same with an FHFA director. It's just a matter of time, he said, before housing advocates catch wind of the possibility. Senate Republicans argue that Cordray's appointment violates the Constitution because the upper chamber has held pro forma sessions. Congress fully reconvenes Jan. 23. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.

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