Freddie/Fannie nominee clears Senate panel

By McClatchy Tribune Newspapers
Posted Dec. 14, 2010 at 4:29 p.m.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted Tuesday to recommend Joseph A. Smith Jr. as the next director of the beleaguered housing finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The mortgage giants have received $151 billion from the federal government to keep them afloat, and President Barack Obama must tell Congress his plan for reorganizing the agencies next month. Smith would be in charge of carrying that out.

Smith is now the North Carolina commissioner for banks. Obama nominated him last month to take over the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which includes Fannie and Freddie along with the 12 federal home loan banks.

The Senate banking committee voted 16-6 to recommend Smith. Republican Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Johanns of Nebraska voted against him.

Smith’s nomination now goes before the full Senate for confirmation. Both his home-state senators, Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan, support him. If the Senate doesn’t confirm Smith by the end of the month, Obama must resubmit his name next year.

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