FHFA nominee to testify before Senate panel next week

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WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee will examine the nomination of Mark Calabria to serve as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency next week as questions intensify around the Trump administration’s plans to overhaul the housing finance system.

Calabria will appear in front of the committee as it convenes for the first time this Congress, on Feb. 14. Also testifying will be Bimal Patel, a Treasury Department official and the nominee to become assistant Treasury secretary of financial institutions; and two nominees for the National Credit Union Administration's board: Todd Harper and Rodney Hood.

Calabria, who is currently the chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence, will likely be questioned about his past statements criticizing the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as reports of a White House framework to shake up the mortgage giants.

Acting FHFA Director Joseph Otting reportedly told agency employees at a staff meeting last month that “Mark has signed off on” the administration’s proposal, which analysts have said could complicate Calabria's confirmation. Calabria can afford to lose only three Republican votes on the committee, and senators could be nervous about the administration usurping Congress’ power.

Trump announced his intent to nominate Calabria to the post in December, and appointed Otting as the acting director in January after former agency director Mel Watt’s term ended earlier in January.

Patel, who is currently the deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for the Financial Stability Oversight Council, was nominated to the assistant secretary position in September. Prior to joining the administration, Patel was an adviser for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and a partner at O’Melveny & Myers.

Harper was nominated to the NCUA board just last week, while Hood was first nominated back in June.

The Senate Banking Committee also announced that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will testify at a Feb. 26 hearing titled “The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress.”

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