At an afternoon press conference on Wednesday Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council called on the Senate to hold an up or down vote to confirm Mel Watt as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.  It appeared from the tone and words of the two men that the Administration is not certain it is going to happen.

Donovan said that the economy and the housing sector have made much progress since the President came into office but that now there is a need for certainty as the recovery moves forward.  Watt, he said, has a wealth of experience, having served 20 years on the House Financial Services Committee where he has fought to protect people from financial abuses, fought for affordable housing, and shown an ability to work across the aisle.  It is urgent that the Senate confirm the Congressman quickly and on a bi-partisan basis.

Sperling said the appointment is a top economic priority for the White House.  It will, he said, create much needed certainty and give the agency a platform for making much needed reform to the housing finance system.

He attacked those who are blocking confirmation attempts saying that there is no good reason to oppose Watt's appointment, no reason to filibuster that appointment, and no one has yet to give one.  It is almost unheard of, he said, for a sitting member of Congress to be filibustered.

He noted that two of Watt's fellow North Carolinians, Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the Simpson Bowles Commission and former Bank of American CEO and Chairman Hugh McCall, both of whom have known Watts for years have strongly endorsed his appointment as have the National Association of Realtors, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, and the Multifamily Housing Council.

Watts nomination will be brought to the floor in the next few days, and there is talk that there will be senators who will refuse to vote to cut off debate. "Watt deserves an up and down vote, the President deserves to see his nominees get an up or down vote and the certainty of the housing markets deserve one as well," Sperling said.