The vote followed a Democratic change to filibuster rules that allowed Watt to pass a key procedural vote without attaining support from 60 lawmakers. Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 57-40 to stop debate on Watt’s nomination.
Watt will soon take over as regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, succeeding current acting FHFA director Edward DeMarco.
"It has been over five years since the FHFA's inception and this is the first time we will have a confirmed director. Congressman Watt's confirmation will provide the housing market more certainty as our economy continues to recover from the financial crisis,” Senate Banking Committee chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said in a statement.
House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling, D-Texas, also congratulated Watt on his confirmation.
“As a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, he has been thoughtful and well-respected during his tenure. My soon-to-be former colleague has big shoes to fill in replacing Acting Director DeMarco and I hope and challenge him to carry on Mr. DeMarco’s policies,” Hensarling said.
DeMarco proved to be a controversial figure with many Democrats, including President Obama, criticizing him for not allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal amounts for struggling borrowers. Republicans, however, had defended DeMarco, arguing he was correctly using his position to protect taxpayer money following the government’s seizure of Fannie and Freddie in 2008.