Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) asked Smith at the sparsely attended hearing if he would resist pressure from the administration to help homeowners by writing down mortgages if it is to the detriment of Fannie and Freddie. Smith said he would serve, first and foremost, as conservator of the government-sponsored enterprises.
Shelby, who could not attend the hearing for very long, listed several other pointed questions for Smith, asking for his responses to be entered into the record. Included among them was what financial statements of the GSEs Smith had personally read since being nominated, and whether he thought the institutions' housing goals were appropriate.
If approved for the position, Smith will begin overseeing the FHFA as Republican lawmakers promise to take on fundamental reform of Fannie and Freddie in the next Congress. And DeMarco, alongside other federal housing regulators, has had to fend off fierce questions from lawmakers in recent weeks about the FHFA's inability to address mortgage documentation and foreclosure proceeding problems that have emerged. A committee vote has not been scheduled yet.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, vowed on the same day as Smith's hearing that the committee's first priority will be reforming the GSEs.
Smith is currently the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks.
This post was updated at 2:32.