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Obama picks veteran Watt as housing finance head

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama is picking a Capitol Hill veteran experienced in business, law and civil rights by naming North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt to head the federal regulatory agency that oversees the country’s two mortgage lending behemoths.

Obama nominated the 67-year-old lawmaker from Charlotte to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Wednesday. Obama noted Watt’s 20 years on Capitol Hill, including service on the House committee that oversees federal housing policy

Watt also pushed for new regulations on aggressive lending, credit card consumer protections, and extending oversight by the Consumer Financial Protection Agency to auto dealers.

Catawba College politics professor Michael Bitzer says he expects a heated confirmation debate if conservative Republicans in the Senate want to hold Watt’s track record as a liberal Democrat against him.

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