Club for Growth warns on Mel Watt nomination

epa03701995 Democratic Congressman from North Carolina Mel Watt (L), holds his grandchild as he asks US Attorney General Eric Holder questions while Democratic Representative from California Zoe Lofgren (R) looks on during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, USA, 15 May 2013. The Attorney General spoke on numerous issues, including the IRS and AP phone tracking scandals. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO Rep. Mel Watt (l), holds his grandchild during a House hearing.  EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

There are ominous signs for the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Seems the conservative Club for Growth isn’t keen on the North Carolina Democrat, and is letting senators know that it’ll be watching the yeas and nays on his nomination. The group noted in a friendly e-mail “reminder” Tuesday that the vote on Watt’s nomination is a key vote — meaning it’s keeping score, and a “yes” vote would be a dreaded black mark on its annual congressional scorecard.

The pressure to oppose Watt even extends to a procedural vote that requires 60 votes, the reminder warns.

That could pose problems for Democrats, who we’re hearing are confident they can muster all 54 votes from their caucus, plus Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Watt’s home-state colleague. But that’s still short of the 60 they need to move Watt’s nomination to a final vote. The stern warning from the powerful conservative group could sap their prospects for finding a few more GOP votes.

Meanwhile, the White House is calling for his swift approval. Senior White House officials met with the heads of housing organization Monday, and according to a White House spokeswoman, the message during the meeting was that  “the Watt confirmation is a top White House priority, that the Senate should move forward to confirm him this week… the President and his senior team will continue to push hard for Watt until he is confirmed and in place.”

Apparently,  the opposition is nothing personal — Club for Growth simply doesn’t like Watt’s calls for federal involvement in the mortgage industry. It would prefer something a little more dramatic: “The correct course of action, including putting this nomination aside, is to privatize Fannie and Freddie and shut down the FHFA,” the e-mail reads.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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