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June 25, 2014 AT 6:29 AM
A U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday approved San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, clearing the way for a final vote in the full Senate. If confirmed in the post, as expected, Castro would be in position to push the Obama administration's plan to wind down mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an effort that has stalled in Congress. The Senate Banking Committee voted 16-6 to place Castro at the helm of the agency in charge of U.S. housing at a time when the market's recovery remains wobbly and still-tight lending terms are making it hard for many Americans to obtain mortgages. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, the 39-year-old Castro became the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city when elected in May 2009. He has been praised for his housing and development programs in the Texas city.