Watt FHFA nomination hit with filibuster


U.S. CongressPresident Barack Obama’s nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency met with significant headwinds as Senate Republicans mustered enough votes to deny cloture and a vote on the actual confirmation. Watt has been in the trade press recently as sponsor of the Free Market Royalty Act.

The vote was 56-42 in favor of cloture, four short of the 60 needed to put the nomination to a vote.

According to reports, the administration is not yet resigned to giving up on Watt’s nomination. He’s the second individual put forth for the job and it’s possible they’ll try again – some Democrats are already renewing calls for the nuclear option to get around Republican filibustering tactics.

It is also possible the administration will name a new acting head for the agency and come up with a third nominee to take over on a more permanent basis.

Watt’s Free Market Royalty Act is the latest attempt by Congress to impose royalty fees on AM and FM radio. Previous attempts have failed to pass, and many members of the House and Senate have already signaled their opposition to any such bill by supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act, which itself signals disapproval of any new royalties affecting broadcasters.

RBR-TVBR observation: Whether Watt is around or not will likely not have a big effect on the bill’s prospects. On the one hand, we suspect that a member of Congress will be found to shepherd Watt’s bill in the event he does eventually move on to FHFA.

Moreover, the prospects for the bill are not good anyway. According to bill rating organization govtrack.us, there is but a 7% chance Watt’s bill will make it out of committee, and only a 1% chance of its becoming a law.