The White House on Thursday called it “enormously disappointing” that Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Earlier Thursday, the upper chamber by a vote of 56-42 kept the nomination from going forward. Watt needed 60 votes to end debate on the nomination.
“It is enormously disappointing that Republicans would filibuster this nomination of a highly qualified nominee,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “We hope those senators will reconsider that vote.”
Republicans have long argued that Obama should have chosen someone less political to lead the FHFA, which oversees mortgage titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Carney pointed out that Watt had served for more than two decades on the House Financial Services Committee.
“We know he would do a good job — there’s a heck of a lot of important work that needs to be done in that agency,” Carney said.
“This is about politics,” Obama’s top spokesman said of GOP opposition.
Carney, though, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had taken steps to allow for another vote on Watt.
“We hope that those senators reconsider their vote and that Mr. Watt will be confirmed in the future,” he said.
The White House pushed for a vote this week in the Senate despite the obvious resistance from Senate Republicans. Watt has remained in confirmation limbo for months, as Republicans and Democrats grapple over the future of the housing agency.
The president has vowed to end Fannie and Freddie’s stranglehold on the mortgage industry, but critics insist he’s not moving swiftly enough to lessen the federal government’s influence on the housing market.
Senate Republicans on Thursday also blocked a second Obama nominee, Patricia Millett. who was tapped to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Senators voted 55 to 38 to proceed with her nomination, short of the 60-vote threshold.