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New filibuster rule means new start for housing finance

Senate should seize opportunity of new filibuster rules to confirm Rep. Mel Watt as head of FHFA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 21, 2013                          

Contact:
Amy Clark
202.466.2121 (ext. 226)
aclark@nhc.org 

WASHINGTON— Today the Senate changed its rules to eliminate filibusters on presidential nominees (apart from Supreme Court Justices). The so-called nuclear option invoked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) paves the way for nominees to be confirmed by simple majority votes, which means that Senate Democrats can prevail without Republican votes if they remain united. 

With the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) still pending, this rule change could have major impacts for affordable housing. FHFA has been pursuing many actions that reduce affordable housing options for America, getting pretty far ahead of a Congress that is finally making bipartisan progress on mortgage finance reform. The National Housing Conference (NHC), a policy, research and advocacy organization, supports the nomination of Rep. Watt and urges the Senate to now move swiftly to confirm him. 

“Senate confirmation of Rep. Watt would allow the agency to take a new direction toward fulfilling the housing needs of all in America. The confirmation decision should be based on policy considerations, not partisan point-scoring,” said Chris Estes, President and CEO of NHC.

The urgent nature of the nation’s housing needs is cause for swift action to confirm. At the same time, many of FHFA’s recent actions run counter to meeting pressing housing needs.  Examples include the reductions in multifamily rental housing production, unwillingness to allow shared appreciation or other principal reductions on distressed loans, the de facto moratorium on product innovation, and the decision not to fund the National Housing Trust Fund.

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About the National Housing Conference

The National Housing Conference (NHC) represents a diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, realtors, equity investors, and more, all of whom share a commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. We are the nation’s oldest housing advocacy organization, dedicated to the affordable housing mission since our founding in 1931. As a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit, we bring together our broad-based membership to advocate on housing issues.


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