House Democrats ramped up their pressure on the nation’s leading housing regulator, telling him to reduce principal on mortgages or be fired.
At a raucous public event Wednesday outside the Capitol, liberal Democrats were joined by struggling homeowners and community activists to deliver a direct message to Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
“Mr. DeMarco, write down these loans,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, invoking former President Reagan’s famous Berlin Wall demand.
Democrats trained their sights on DeMarco, who is charged with overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and minimizing the losses they pose to taxpayers. DeMarco has resisted repeated calls to allow writedowns on mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie, maintaining that the move would not be as effective as other tools available to aid struggling homeowners. But Democrats contended that DeMarco is simply unwilling to take a step they say is needed for struggling homeowners and the broader economy.
“If the director is unable to, then he should step aside and let someone come in with the foresight and the courage not to be afraid of or kowtow to the big banks,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the other co-chairman of the CPC.
“We know that Mr. DeMarco will not do it. He’s been very consistent. He says it’s wrong,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “He’s entitled to his opinion. He should be fired. He must be fired.”
Cheers of “DeMarco must go” could be heard by the activists gathered at the press event.
While some were already calling for DeMarco to be replaced, others tempered their demands. Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) said he has not called for his removal, but urged for smart usage of principal reductions.
The event marked the latest in a concerted campaign to pressure the FHFA to allow principal writedowns. The activists planned to head to FHFA headquarters following the event, where they would deliver a petition with 85,000 signatures calling for DeMarco to be fired.
As congressional Democrats grow frustrated with DeMarco, the White House has been silent on calls for his removal. But Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said earlier this month that principal reductions could be an effective tool for helping homeowners and the housing market.