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John R.
Democrat RI

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  • Nomination of Katherine Archuleta to Be Director of the Office of Personnel Management

    by Senator Jack Reed

    Posted on 2013-10-30

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    REED. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise today to support my colleague and my friend, Congressman Mel Watt of North Carolina, who has been nominated by the President to be the next Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency--the FHFA. I have total confidence that Mel is fully capable and qualified to serve as the FHFA Director, and I am not alone.

    This week, the National Association of Home Builders wrote a letter to Leaders Reid and McConnell unequivocally endorsing Congressman Watt, stating: During Representative Watt's tenure on the House Financial Services Committee, he has proven to be a thoughtful leader on housing policy. The FHFA needs a permanent director with his leadership capabilities.

    Senator Burr, Congressman Watt's Republican colleague from North Carolina, and Senator Hagan recently shared a ``Dear Colleague'' in which both North Carolina Senators stated clearly, in their words: Congressman Watt has shown himself to be an honest, kind, and capable individual with deep understanding of the housing market. We urge you to support his nomination.

    He is indeed qualified to serve as the FHFA Director. He is an incredibly decent and honest person who I know will always work diligently toward a decision based on the facts, not on ideology or momentary trends. Democrats know this, and Republicans who have worked and served with him know this.

    Despite this, there is some question whether Congressman Watt has the technical experience to run FHFA. So let us look at Congressman Watt's record to see if we can peel that back and look closely.

    He is a graduate of Yale Law School, who for 22 years practiced business, economic development, and real estate law. He is not a theoretician. He understands the impact of foreclosure, not just the macroeconomics but the personal dimension. He understands the role of financial intermediaries, banks and housing agencies. He has been a 21- year member of the House Financial Services Committee, so legislatively he has been engaged and involved in every major business, financial, and housing initiative in the last two decades, and he has seen this from the perspective of a legislator.

    He has earned the support of his colleagues, but also he has earned the support of his constituents and his neighbors back home. He has the endorsement of the former Republican Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Spencer Bachus of Alabama, who noted: Congressman Watt has played an integral role in the financial services committee's deliberations on housing policy and is known as a serious and substantive legislator . . . In my experience in working with him on a variety of issues, I have always personally respected Congressman Watt for his intellect, attention to detail, and dedication to serving the public.

    Again, this is a reflection of two decades of service at the heart of the process of legislating with respect to housing policy in the United States. So when we combine his legal training, his practical experience as a lawyer, his two decades of service as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, he is fully qualified for this key position, which is so vitally important now because we have to seriously tackle the issue of housing finance reform, and we have to take into consideration the needs and concerns of all the stakeholders, from investors to homeowners.

    Again, Congressman Watt has that perspective--knowing the intricacies from his legal training of financial laws, doing what he has to do to protect the interests of his clients, and as a legislator with over two decades of experience in creating housing policy in the United States.

    The FHFA should be led by a Director, confirmed by the Senate, not an [[Page S7660]] Acting Director. We have to send the signal this is a position that is important and deserves a confirmed Director, notwithstanding the skills and abilities and the great dedication of the current Acting Director. We need to have someone in the position who has been confirmed by the Senate. There are too many critical decisions each day, and too much at stake in terms of housing finance reform not to have a confirmed Director of the FHFA.

    I urge my colleagues to allow this nomination to come before this body for a vote. Congressman Watt deserves no less, and I indeed urge support for his confirmation.

    With that, I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.

    Youth Employment Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, today I rise to call attention to a problem that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle recently. That issue is our unemployed and underemployed American youth.

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