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Dems clear way for Senate OK of Obama housing pick

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Photo - FILE - This May 1, 2013 file photo shows Federal Housing Finance Authority Director nominee Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., listening as President Barack Obama announces Watt's nomination for the, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Democrats begin a drive this week to muscle a half dozen of President Barrack Obama's Republican-opposed nominees through the Senate after clamping shackles on traditional minority party rights in last month's power play against the GOP. Republicans, however, still have some tools for grinding the Senate's work to an excruciatingly slow crawl.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE - This May 1, 2013 file photo shows Federal Housing Finance Authority Director nominee Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., listening as President Barack Obama announces Watt's nomination for the, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Democrats begin a drive this week to muscle a half dozen of President Barrack Obama's Republican-opposed nominees through the Senate after clamping shackles on traditional minority party rights in last month's power play against the GOP. Republicans, however, still have some tools for grinding the Senate's work to an excruciatingly slow crawl. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats have used the Senate's newly eased filibuster procedures to clear the way for confirmation of the man President Barack Obama wants to become a top housing regulator.

The Senate voted 57-40 on Tuesday to end a Republican filibuster, or delaying tactics, against Rep. Mel Watt.

Until Democrats forced through changes last month, it took 60 votes to end filibusters — a margin Democrats cannot achieve without support from some of the chamber's 45 Republicans.

In May, Obama picked the veteran North Carolina Democrat to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. It oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages.

Until now, the nomination had languished because of Republican complaints that Watt is unqualified. Democrats say that is untrue.

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