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Senate Confirms Castro as HUD Chief

headshots_castroLess than two months after the San Antonio mayor's nomination for the post, the Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Julian Castro as HUD secretary as current cabinet member Shaun Donovan is poised to take over the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The body voted 71-26 to confirm Castro, a Democrat whose star has been on the rise since he delivered the opening keynote at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. He is currently serving his third term as the mayor of San Antonio, a role in which he has worked to bring greater private investment and more housing opportunities to the city.

In a statement from the White House following the vote, President Obama praised Castro as a "proven leader" and "a champion for safe, affordable housing and strong, sustainable neighborhoods."

"I know that that together with the dedicated professionals at HUD, Julián will help build on the progress we've made battling back from the Great Recession—rebuilding our housing market, reducing homelessness among veterans, and connecting neighborhoods with good schools and good jobs that help our citizens succeed," the president said.

Receiving 20 votes more than the simple majority required for his nod, Castro's nomination attracted supporters from both sides of the aisle, including fellow San Antonian John Cornyn (R-Texas).

All 26 opposition votes, meanwhile, came from Republican senators, including Ted Cruz (Texas) and Mike Crapo (Idaho), who has recently been working alongside Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) in drafting a secondary mortgage market reform bill that would dissolve Fannie and Freddie. With mid-term elections now approaching, commentators don't expect any significant reform to move forward this year.

Responses from the mortgage industry were largely positive, with Mortgage Bankers Association President David Stevens offering his commendation. "With Castro becoming the next HUD Secretary, and Shaun Donovan soon to become the new Director of OMB, the Administration will be well positioned to address the important housing policy issues. We look forward to working with both men to help ease access to credit for qualified borrowers and accelerate the housing recovery."

Dan Berger, president and CEO of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), echoed that statement, saying, "We look forward to working with Mr. Castro and HUD in continued efforts to advance credit unions' concerns about housing finance and impacts on their members and communities."

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