Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, delivered the following remarks during a Banking Committee mark-up of several nominations to federal agencies:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased that nearly all of these nominees can be moved today via voice vote. I congratulate each of them and wish them a speedy confirmation process on the floor.
This is a clear reminder that the vast majority of the President's nominees are being confirmed with little controversy.
However, the Senate under the Constitution was given the duty to advise and consent on nominations of agency heads and perhaps no position is in more need of that scrutiny than the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Representative Watt has had a long, distinguished career in the House of Representatives and in legal practice.
He is well-liked by his colleagues, regardless of whether they see eye-to-eye with him on the issues.
His personal story is compelling at every level and I believe he could have easily won confirmation, with broad bipartisan support, for a number of cabinet and Presidential advisor positions open at the time of his nomination.
However, this position is like no other in our government.
As Conservator, this nominee would actually operate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose combined portfolios exceed five trillion dollars.
In fact, if confirmed this nominee would stand alone as regulator, operator and shareholder of Fannie and Freddie.
Because the Conservator has virtually unchecked power to control two multi-trillion dollar companies and through them our entire mortgage market, the Conservator must be an apolitical financial regulator with technical expertise and someone who will resist political pressure from all sides of the political spectrum.
Additionally, the Conservator must possess an in-depth knowledge of: the operations of the mortgage industry; the mortgage backed security industry; structured securitizations; investment portfolios; the operations of both public and private insurance and guarantees; and the expertise to oversee the nearly 12,000 employees employed by both entities.
The White House was fully aware of all these concerns.
However, rather than acknowledging the unique aspects of this job, the White House chose to ignore calls that they emphasize technical expertise and political independence in their search.
I am disappointed with the White House for that decision and for forcing us into the position we find ourselves in today.
As I evaluate unique the powers and responsibilities of the Conservator, I cannot support Representative Watt to fill that position and must also urge my colleagues to oppose his nomination.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.