WASHINGTON — Republicans successfully blocked a vote Thursday to confirm Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, even as Senate Banking Committee members from both parties continued to discuss mortgage finance reform options.

Only two GOP senators — Ohio's Rob Portman and Richard Burr from Watt's home state of North Carolina — voted in favor of a motion to stop debate on Watt's nomination and confirm him by a simple majority. (The Senate voted 56 to 42 for the "cloture" motion, short of the required 60-vote threshold.)

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