The Senate has confirmed Steven Preston to be the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the agency steps up its efforts to help struggling homeowners and tries to finalize a RESPA proposal before year's end.

The Senate confirmed President George W. Bush’s new HUD secretary Wednesday night, elevating the former administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to be a key government advisor.

It is likely that Preston will be lead negotiator as Congress and the White House work on legislation to allow the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to $300 billion in refinanced mortgages.

Before heading the SBA, Preston was executive vice president of ServiceMaster, a network of more than 5,000 home care businesses.  Since his appointment of administrator of the SBA in July 2006, Preston made many reforms, including re-evaluating size standards for small businesses for federal contracts and set-aside programs.

The Senate confirmed Preston by voice vote, replacing Alphonso Jackson who resigned as HUD secretary in March amid allegations of political favoritism in awarding contracts.

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