After months of contentious debate, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) finally has a new director. Mel Watt, the former democratic North Carolina senator, was sworn in Monday to a five-year term as the first Senate-confirmed director of the FHFA. Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina administered the oath.
FHFA was created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks and is responsible for oversight of the $5.5 trillion mortgage finance market.
“I am honored to serve as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency,” Watt said. “Today’s housing finance system is one of the keys to our economic recovery and I am grateful for the opportunity to help develop a strong foundation for moving this system forward for the benefit of all Americans at this critical point in our nation’s history.”
Watt, 68, represented the 12th congressional district of North Carolina as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 21 years, being first elected to that office in 1992. As a member of Congress, Watt served on the House Financial Services Committee, and its Capital Markets Subcommittee and Government Sponsored Enterprises. Watt also served on the House Judiciary Committee, where he was ranking member of the Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee. Watt also served as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Watt was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a law degree from Yale University Law School. After he completed school, Watt practiced law for more than 20 years, specializing in minority business and economic development law in a general practice law firm. He also served one term in the North Carolina Senate.