WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination 16 to 6 of Joe Smith to serve as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The Obama administration is clearly hoping to push through Smith's nomination before Congress adjourns at the end of the week. Smith, currently the North Carolina commissioner of banks, was featured at a brief conformation hearing last week where he received relatively few questions.
Still, some Republicans expressed objections on Tuesday. Sen. Richard Shelby, the panel's No. 1 GOP member, said that Smith had not been forthright in his answers to written questions submitted by the Alabama lawmaker. He also implied the Obama administration would use Smith to force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase loan modifications by reducing principle, increasing costs to the government-sponsored enterprises.
"He's been very evasive with the questions I asked him the other day," Shelby said. "He didn't answer them. He will be a tool of the administration, cutting mortgages and throwing the bill to the taxpayer."
But Smith was supported by outgoing chairman Chris Dodd, who called him a "very talented individual."
Three Republicans also supported the nomination: Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.