WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee voted to advance the nomination of Brian Montgomery to serve as commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration — a post he held during the George W. Bush administration.
The vote passed 18-5, with all 12 Republicans and six Democrats voting in favor of Montgomery. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were among the five Democrats who voted against Montgomery's confirmation, claiming he is too close to the mortgage industry due to his work over the past few years as a consultant and partner at the Collingwood Group in Washington.
"Due to his previous term as commissioner, Montgomery brings valuable experience" to the FHA, Brown said during the Nov. 28 committee meeting. "But I'm concerned that Mr. Montgomery will make FHA a better partner for the mortgage industry and he will lose sight of the interests of FHA and of consumers."
Sen. Warren also voted against Montgomery's nomination. "This is one the worst cases of the revolving door I have ever seen," she said.
She claimed big banks originated fraudulent FHA mortgages during his term as FHA commissioner. And as a consultant, he advised the banks on to pay as little as possible for "fraud that occurred on his watch at the FHA," she said.
"I understand that the committee has advanced Mr. Montgomery's nomination to the full Senate today. But I hope the full Senate will reject this nominee," Warren said.
President Trump nominated Montgomery in September. Now that his nomination has cleared the committee, it's unclear when it will go before a full vote of the Senate. The Trump administration has yet to nominate a candidate to serve as president of Ginnie Mae. David Kittle, a former chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, is said to be Trump's pick.
The American Bankers Association voiced its support for Montgomery's nomination.
"HUD programs, and FHA programs in particular, are essential components of federal housing policy. We are pleased and reassured that these programs are being put into the experienced and steady hands of expert administrators like Brian Montgomery," said Bob Davis, ABA executive vice president of mortgage markets.
The Senate Banking Committee also approved the nominations of Robert Hunter Kurtz, of Virginia, to be HUD assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing, and Suzanne Israel Tufts, of New York, to be assistant secretary for Administration.