House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters is urging President Joe Biden to keep the current regulator of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, creating a potential clash with the White House as it considers naming a replacement.
The California Democrat made the rare public intervention into executive branch personnel late Thursday with a statement endorsing acting Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra Thompson, who took on the role in June after Biden fired a Trump appointee.
“We will not find a more qualified, more dedicated, or more deserving public servant than Ms. Thompson to lead the FHFA at this moment in our nation’s history,” Waters said. “Appointing Ms. Thompson as director of FHFA is an opportunity that should not be missed.”
Fannie and Freddie — the government-controlled companies the FHFA oversees — buy mortgages from banks and resell them as securities to investors, making the firms and the agency critical to the functioning of the U.S. housing market.
Waters, one of the most influential Washington voices when it comes to housing policy, threw her weight behind Thompson as the White House considered nominating Center for Responsible Lending President Michael Calhoun for the job, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Thompson’s initial actions in her first months leading the FHFA have tracked closely with the Biden administration’s priorities to expand affordable housing and address racial homeownership gaps. Thompson is the first Black woman to head FHFA — a point that Waters tried to elevate in her plea to Biden. Calhoun is a white man.
“It is in part due to the past and ongoing lack of representation of people of color in the senior ranks of our financial services regulators that we see stark racial and economic inequities throughout our country today,” Waters said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.