WASHINGTON — The Senate approved three Department of Housing and Urban Development nominees by vote voice on Thursday, but left for the holiday break without confirming Brian Montgomery as head of the Federal Housing Administration.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and four other Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee are insisting on a recorded vote by the full Senate.

Despite the delay, industry sources expect the Senate will confirm Montgomery in January.

Montgomery previously served as FHA commissioner from 2005 to 2009 and received high marks for his leadership of the agency following the housing crash.

Brian Montgomery
Democratic lawmakers are worried Brian Montgomery, who has been nominated to head FHA, is too close to the mortgage industry. Bloomberg News

But Warren is concerned that Montgomery is too close to mortgage industry due to his consulting work with private mortgage lenders and insurers after he left HUD.Montgomery was a co-founder and vice chairman of the Collingwood Group in Washington until recently.

A letter signed by 45 housing-related groups notes that the FHA under Montgomery played a "counter-cyclical" role in the aftermath of the housing crash.

The signers also noted that Montgomery led HUD's response to Hurricane Katrina.

"This experience will be very helpful in the aftermath of the recent disasters in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands," said a Dec. 8 joint letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

On Thursday, the Senate confirmed: Susan Israel Tufts to be HUD assistant secretary for administration, Leonard Wolfson to be HUD assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental relations and Irving Dennis to be HUD's chief financial officer.

Dennis recently retired as a global client service partner with Ernst & Young. Wolfson previously served as HUD's congressional liaison during the Bush administration. And Tufts is a consultant and attorney with expertise in the field of inner-city social programming in the areas of microenterprise, education and women’s issues.

She has also been responsible for programs at housing authorities in New York, according to HUD.

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