Veteran N.C. Congressman Watt gets Federal Housing Finance Agency nod


President Barack Obama announces his nominee for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., Wednesday, May 1, in the State Dining of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


WASHINGTON (AP) —President Barack Obama on Wednesday tapped a veteran Democratic congressman to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency and a top fundraiser and former lobbyist to head up the Federal Communications Commission.

Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., would oversee federal mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Introducing his nominees at the White House, Obama noted the Charlotte-area congressman’s 20 years of service on the House committee that oversees federal housing policy. He said Watt has led efforts to rein in unscrupulous mortgage lenders, protect consumers from the kind of risk-taking that led to the 2008 financial crisis and has fought to increase access to affordable housing.

“Mel understands as well as anybody what caused the housing crisis,” Obama said. “He knows what it’s going to take to help responsible homeowners fully recover.”

Tom Wheeler would become the nation’s top telecommunications regulator. He is a former head of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, and the National Cable Television Association, and has been a venture capitalist since 2005. He raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election, according to data the campaign provided.

Obama said Wheeler, for more than 30 years, has been at the forefront of dramatic changes in the way people communicate.

“He’s like the Jim Brown of telecom, or the Bo Jackson of telecom,” Obama joked, comparing Wheeler to the two former professional athletes. “So Tom knows this stuff inside and out.”

Senate confirmation is required for both regulatory posts.

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