Banking

Waters urges Biden to nominate FHFA’s Thompson as agency’s director

WASHINGTON — House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters is calling on President Biden to name acting Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra Thompson as the agency’s permanent leader, calling Thompson “uniquely qualified” to lead the agency.

The Democrat from California released a statement late Thursday night outlining Thompson’s accomplishments as acting FHFA director in the three months she has served in the role.

Waters’ input could complicate the administration’s process for selecting a chief for the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Her statement came amid rumors that Biden is considering nominating Mike Calhoun, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending.

“Appointed on June 23 as acting director, Ms. Thompson has needed little time to show this nation how uniquely qualified she is to serve at the helm of FHFA,” Waters said in the statement. “Her commitment to ensuring that the [government-sponsored enterprises] are both well capitalized and using their status to expand low-cost mortgage credit to all communities is illustrated in her actions.”

“Appointed on June 23 as acting director, Ms. Thompson has needed little time to show this nation how uniquely qualified she is to serve at the helm of FHFA,” House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters said.

Bloomberg News

Thompson was named as acting director of the FHFA after Biden ousted former Director Mark Calabria in June. The Supreme Court had ruled that the president could fire the head of the agency at will.

Although Waters did not mention Calhoun by name in her statement, she suggested that Biden would be unwise to replace a person of color as the head of the agency.

“It is in part due to the past and ongoing lack of representation of people of color in the senior ranks of our financial services regulators that we see stark racial and economic inequities throughout our country today,” said Waters. “We will not find a more qualified, more dedicated, or more deserving public servant than Ms. Thompson to lead the FHFA at this moment in our nation’s history.”

Waters added that as Congress and the White House work to implement the Biden administration’s agenda, “it will be critical to have an FHFA director who is committed to advancing housing affordability, expanding the dream of homeownership and closing the racial wealth gap in this country.”

It is still unclear where the White House stands on the FHFA director nomination. But Waters’ support for Thompson could make nominating Calhoun more difficult, given the California lawmaker’s influence among progressives and atop the House Financial Services Committee.

Waters highlighted several actions Thompson has taken as acting FHFA director, including eliminating the adverse market refinance fee, entering into an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development aimed at strengthening fair-lending enforcement for the GSEs, and proposing affordable housing goals for Fannie and Freddie that for the first time included a subcategory covering lending to minority neighborhoods.



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