Senate Republicans blocked a vote on Rep. Mel Watt’s nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
The Senate voted 56 to 42 to move to a vote on the nomination on Oct. 31, just shy of the 60 votes needed to advance the nomination.
This is the latest battle between the two parties over President Obama’s nominees. The White House and Democrats are expected to try again.
In the days before the vote, Obama administration officials tried to mount support for Watt (D-N.C.). In a phone call with reporters, Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the longtime Congressman is the man for the job.
“Bottom line: Confirming Mel Watt would be good for the housing market, the economy, and our nation,” he said. “These are goals that should be shared by members of Congress from all political backgrounds.”
Donovan was joined on the call by Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council.
“There is simply no reason for anyone to oppose Mel Watt,” Sperling said. “No one has given a good or credible reason for opposing or filibustering Mel Watt. It’s almost unprecedented for a sitting member of Congress to be filibustered.”
Sperling called for the Senate to hold an up or down vote.
Republicans have said they want someone with more mortgage finance experience.
If confirmed, Watt would lead the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Donovan noted that the nominee has more than 20 years on the House financial services and judiciary committees as well as track record of expanding affordable housing and protecting consumers from abusive finance products.