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Congressional Tri-Caucus Calls on Senate to Confirm Rep. Mel Watt as FHFA Director

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10/31/13

The Chairs and Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Leslie Proll, Director of the Washington D.C. Office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Deidre Swesnik, Director of Public Policy and Communications at National Fair Housing Alliance, encouraged the U.S. Senate to confirm Congressman Mel Watt (NC-12) as the next Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director.  On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took the procedural step to hold a vote to end debate on the nomination for Watt. The Senate confirmation vote is expected to be held on Thursday, October 31. Below are quotes from each speaker’s remarks.

Leslie Proll, Director, Washington Office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund:

“Today, we ask the Senate to continue its longstanding tradition of confirming a sitting Member of Congress to a top level position in the Administration.  As a Member of Congress who has served with distinction for over two decades, Congressman Watt should be treated with the same deference, respect and courtesy which the Senate has shown to countless other Members of Congress who have been confirmed to Administration posts throughout history.   Given his vast experience and stellar leadership on housing and banking policy, Congressman Watt is exactly the right person to head the Federal Housing Finance Authority at this time.  We look forward to his confirmation by the Senate.”

CBC Chair Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11):

“Rep. Watt is uniquely qualified to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.  He has proven that he has the specialized knowledge and the commitment required to address our nation’s broken housing market that has hurt so many families across this country. I want to make sure my colleagues in the Senate and our constituents across this country know that Rep. Watt, who has served his community and this nation with the highest integrity for more than 40 years, is more than ready to do the job he has been nominated to do.”

Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC-06):
“For more than 40 years, I have been proud to call Mel Watt a true friend and for more than 20 years, I've been privileged to call Representative Watt a colleague here in Congress.  As an experienced real estate attorney and a veteran of the Financial Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee, Rep Watt is uniquely qualified to head this important agency.  Beyond his formal education, what we in the south refer to as ‘book learning’ Mr. Watt possesses the rare quality of common sense that all too often runs in short supply.  I urge the Members of the Senate from both political parties to vote to confirm his nomination without further delay.”

 CAPAC Chair Judy Chu (CA-27):

“The economic crisis hit us hard. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community experienced the largest decline in homeownership of any racial group.  It is critical to have a proven Director at the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Congressman Mel Watt has the requisite track record – he’s worked tirelessly to end predatory lending policies and addressed foreclosures issues head on. We need Mel Watt at the helm of the FHFA and I strongly urge the Senate to confirm him.”

CHC Chair Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15):

"Congressman Mel Watt is eminently qualified to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. His history in Congress demonstrates that he will be a strong advocate in addressing the minority homeownership gap and the disproportionate foreclosure rates on minority mortgage holders.  The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is confident Mel will ensure homeownership remains a pillar of the American Dream.  We call on our colleagues in the Senate, particularly our Republican colleagues, to vote in favor of his confirmation."

 Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member on the House Financial Services Committee:

“As overseer of the nation’s secondary mortgage markets, the Federal Housing Finance Agency plays a critical role in our economic and housing recovery. I believe Mel Watt has the vision and experience necessary to lay the groundwork for its long-term stability. This is particularly needed as Congress begins to consider reforming a $10 trillion secondary mortgage market.”

Deidre Swesnik, Director of Public Policy and Communications, National Fair Housing Alliance:

“We urge the Senate to give an up or down vote on the confirmation of Congressman Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The housing crisis is far from over and it is about time the FHFA has a regulator that will act in the best interest of our nation's economy. Congressman Watt has a strong understanding of financial markets and an appreciation for the crucial role that FHFA plays in promoting safe and sound lending practices. He is also committed to helping communities that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, so that they too can share in our economic recovery.”

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 The Congressional Tri-Caucus includes the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The objectives of the Congressional Tri-Caucus are to promote the public health and well-being through legislative action, social outreach, and political engagement. To this end, the Tri-Caucus seeks to preserve our Nation’s commitment to fair and equitable treatment to all Americans. The Tri-Caucus has worked together for over a decade to ensure that the Congressional legislative agenda reflects the health challenges of all Americans.