The nomination of North Carolina congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency cleared a key procedural hurdle Tuesday.
The U.S. Senate voted 57-40 to break Republican opposition to Watt’s nomination. Democrats were able to move the nomination forward thanks to a change in Senate rules that Democrats pushed through last month in response to numerous blocked nominations.
The so-called “nuclear option” allows the majority party to cut-off filibuster maneuvers with a smaller margin of support. If the Senate goes on to confirm Watt, it will end a stalemate that has continued for several months.
President Obama picked Watt in May to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Republicans have claimed that Watt is not qualified for the post.
UPDATE: The U.S. Senate confirmed Mel Watt as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Tuesday evening. The vote was 57-41.