Senate confirms Watt

The Senate voted 57-41 Tuesday to confirm Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) as the top regulator tasked with overseeing an overhaul of the housing finance system.

Watt, who lost his confirmation bid the first time around in October, made it through Tuesday — making him the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Senate Democrats unilaterally changed the filibuster rules last month, allowing a simple-majority to end debate on Watt’s nomination.

Previously, 60 votes were needed to get cloture but Watt benefited from Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE's (D-Nev.) invoking the nuclear option, which meant only a simple majority of 51 votes is needed for nominations below the Supreme Court level. Debate was ended on Watt's nominate earlier Tuesday on a 57-40 vote.

Despite serving in the House for 20 years, Republicans argued that Watt is not qualified to become regulator of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are government controlled and dominate the mortgage market.

They said that the agency needs a nonpolitical technocrat who can delve into the complexity of mortgage finance at the independent agency.

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