Mark Calabria has been confirmed by the Senate and will serve as the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
The 52-44 vote was along party lines.
Calabria, President Trump’s pick to lead the agency, had been serving as chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence.
Calabria will now take over the helm from Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who had been serving as acting director of the FHFA following the departure of former director Mel Watt, whose term ended in January.
Calabria’s confirmation has been greatly anticipated in the mortgage industry, mainly because he has been an strong proponent of housing finance reform, including transitioning government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of conservatorship.
The Trump Administration has, in recent months, been pushing for housing finance reform. Last month, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the Treasury Department and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with other government agencies connected with the housing market, to enact housing finance reform including a plan for releasing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from conservatorship.
The plan essentially directs the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to work with the other housing-related federal agencies in developing a comprehensive plan for housing finance reform – including a determination as to which reform measures can be handled administratively and which will require an act of Congress.
As director of the FHFA – the agency in charge of regulating the GSEs – Calabria is set to play a large role in the end of conservatorship, if it is to happen.
Calabria has extensive experience dealing with housing policy. Previously, he served as a senior aide on the Senate Banking Committee, where he was one of the main architects of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which established the FHFA.
He also served as deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during former President George W. Bush’s administration.
John Smaby, president of the National Association of Realtors, says Calabria “has decades of experience in the housing industry, including time spent as an economist at NAR, and he understands the critical importance of the FHFA’s prudent management of America’s housing finance system.”
“As he begins his tenure, we urge Director Calabria to work closely with Congress in the effort to responsibly reform the GSEs, particularly in search of policies that protect the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, secure a government guarantee and emphasize taxpayer and consumer protection,” Smaby says in a statement.
Robert Broeksmit, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, says Calabria’s “knowledge and experience will serve him well as he takes over this dynamic agency at such a critical time.”
“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been in conservatorship for more than a decade and, it’s well past time that policymakers address the long-term future of these enterprises,” Broeksmit says in a statement. “As both administrative and legislative reforms move forward, it is important that the regulator and Congress support ongoing liquidity and stability, and ensure that the private market is capable of sustaining an expanded role before steps are taken to modify the GSEs’ footprint.
“With his deep policy background and relationships in both the legislative and executive branches, we believe that Dr. Calabria is well positioned to provide strong leadership at FHFA,” Broeksmit continues. “We look forward to working with him to identify workable solutions that establish a housing finance system that protects taxpayers, allows equal access to lenders of all sizes and business models, and ensures a liquid and stable mortgage market for single-family and multifamily loans.”