Booker: Kill the Filibuster, End Watt’s Wait

Posted by John Atlas on November 6, 2013

Cory Booker was just sworn in as a U.S. Senator. His introduction to the lunacy of Senate procedure was swift.

In April, the well regarded Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) was nominated by President Obama to replace acting director Ed DeMarco—a Bush-era appointee—as permanent director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA.)

Fannie and Freddie together control more than half the mortgages in the U.S. DeMarco has been a disaster. An immediate appointment of Watt is needed if we are to keep families facing foreclosure in their homes by FHFA doing things like reducing principal on underwater mortgages.

Right after Booker was sworn in, the Senate took a cloture vote aimed at defeating the GOP's filibuster to keep Rep. Watt from being confirmed. Fifty-six senators voted to confirm Watt, but Republicans blocked his nomination because it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.

Now is the time for Booker to show some leadership in the Senate. There are 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans, but the filibuster means that despite having a 10 seat majority, Democrats can't actually get the senate to act unless they pursue what some call the nuclear option, and vote to end the filibuster. If Booker supports such an effort, he will be acting like a leader and helping New Jersey's endangered homeowners.

About the author more »

John Atlas is president and one of the founders of NHI. Atlas is the author of Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group (Vanderbilt University Press, 2010), a story about one group’s efforts to reduce inequality. Atlas lives in Montclair, NJ, and is working on an upcoming theatrical documentary funded by the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, and PBS.

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