On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee held a poorly-attended confirmation hearing for five nominees to the FHFA, SEC, NCUA, and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. As anticipated, discussion was largely partisan and focused heavily on Rep. Watt’s (D-NC) potential role as Director of FHFA. Republican Members reiterated their opposition, particularly Sen. Corker (R-TN), who questioned Rep. Watt’s technical abilities as well as his objectivity. Ranking Member Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Toomey (R-PA) pressed Rep. Watt for his views on FHFA’s statutory authority, QM (see Client Report MORTAGE110) and QRM (see FSM Report MORTGAGE100), principle forgiveness, and the use of eminent domain. Rep. Watt gave a surprisingly strong defense, emphasizing his legislative experience while also assuring Republicans that he intends to work with Congress as they craft the framework for housing reform. The other nominees included Michael Piwowar and Kara Stein as SEC Commissioners, Richard Metsger as a Member of the NCUA Board, and Jason Furman as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. Questioning here was limited and covered general topics, although Sen. Warren (D-MA) did press Mr. Furman on TBTF, pushing for reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act. This report analyzes today’s hearing.
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