Vote to confirm Trump's FHA commissioner has been delayed too long

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Just as a football team needs a QB, a business needs a CEO to provide insight, direction and leadership.

Imagine what would happen if a trillion-dollar private sector entity operated without a CEO because its board of directors squabbled over unrelated matters, rather than approving the appointment of the top executive. The shareholders would be forced to take action.

Now consider the Federal Housing Administration, a major insurance operation with over $1.2 trillion of insurance in force, which has been without a commissioner for more than year.

The FHA is a unique and purposeful entity that fulfills a social purpose by providing credit enhancement to entice lenders to make mortgages to first-time homebuyers and existing homeowners currently burdened with high interest rate mortgages; to developers building rental housing to serve low-income families and the moderate-income workforce; to community-based hospitals and nursing homes; and to older homeowners needing to draw upon their home equity to cover the growing costs of longer lifespans.

Without the FHA, all of these types of borrowers would face higher financing costs and more restrictive terms, rendering many of these vital undertakings unfeasible.

At the moment, this trillion-dollar-plus enterprise is operating without a "CEO," a role that is essentially fulfilled by the Federal Housing Commissioner. A qualified nominee, Brian Montgomery, was nominated by the Administration on Sept. 13 and approved by the Senate Banking Committee on Nov. 28 with bipartisan support. Yet, five months later, Montgomery's nomination still awaits a vote by the full Senate.

Montgomery is a knowledgeable housing professional with substantial policy and administrative experience. His background includes serving in an executive position in a state housing finance agency in his native Texas, working in the White House under President George W. Bush and serving as the Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner. He is well-versed in housing policy issues and, perhaps even more importantly, is familiar with HUD programs and operations.

The fact that final confirmation of a highly qualified individual to fulfill an extremely important position has been held up by political maneuvering is something that most housing advocates find difficult to comprehend.

In the case of this important executive appointment, Senate leadership, on both sides of the aisle, have ignored their responsibility for long enough. FHA needs a commissioner and a qualified candidate is waiting in the wings, ready to serve.

On behalf of the housing industry, homeowners, renters and communities alike, I urge Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to come together and schedule, as soon as possible, time for debate and a vote on the nomination of Brian Montgomery.

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Law and regulation Reverse mortgages First time home buyers Brian D. Montgomery FHA HUD