Congresswoman Maxine Waters released the following statement today in response to news that President Barack Obama will nominate Congressman Melvin L. Watt to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency:
"It is with high regard and great respect that I endorse the nomination of Representative Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. We are at a crossroads in our economic recovery, and the FHFA must play a leading role in laying the groundwork for the long-term stability of the housing market. Given that this is one of the most important challenges that we face as a nation, we need a man as thoughtful, well-informed, principled and fair as Representative Watt.
"I have worked very closely with Representative Watt for almost 20 years. We have served together on the House Financial Services Committee since 1994, where Mel is highly respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle as a consummate legislator with the vision to see what Congress can do to help make people's lives better and the determination to move a good bill through the legislative process. Representative Watt is always respectful of opposing viewpoints and can often find common ground when others can find none. He is accepting, open-minded and collaborative -- and he gets things done.
"For example, in 2004, long before most people realized that predatory lending was a problem, Representative Watt, and his colleague Representative Brad Miller, introduced legislation to restrict the unfair lending practices which led so many people to take out mortgages they could not afford. The financial crisis proved that Representative Watt was right about this issue. So he worked to make sure that his legislation, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, was included in the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Representative Watt then served as a valuable member of the Dodd-Frank Conference Committee, where he worked to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions of the bill.
"Including the aforementioned Dodd-Frank Act, Representative Watt has had a hand in nearly every major piece of legislation the Financial Services Committee has sent to a President for signature in recent years, including the Financial Services Modernization Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Mel played a leading role as an original co-sponsor of the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007, which was ultimately rolled into the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, providing expanded oversight authority for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. His legislative work demonstrates unwavering commitment to protecting consumers, expanding affordable rental housing, and providing prudent oversight of financial institutions.
"Representative Watt's strength as a legislator also extends to his work on the Judiciary Committee, where I also served with him. He was an influential member of the bipartisan coalition which steered the landmark Voting Rights Act to reauthorization. And he led the first effort in 20 years to reform the nation's patent laws.
"I thank President Obama for having the foresight to nominate Representative Watt to head the FHFA. It is a job that requires a leader who deeply understands the complex issues surrounding housing and finance, which Representative Watt has proven throughout his career. But the job also requires someone of Representative Watt's temperament -- thoughtful, fair-minded, balanced, collaborative -- and wise. We have many challenges before us, and we need a man like Representative Watt. I strong endorse him to head the FHFA."