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Legislative Updates: November 2010


Capitol Call

With the mid-term elections finally over, we have a few months peace before the 2012 election cycle begins in earnest. In the meantime, there is a great deal to digest from the 2010 mid-terms, with over 90 members to bid farewell and new ones to meet.

For example, 13 of the 42 Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) lost their bids for re-election (two more are in races that are too close to call even several days later), including Capital Markets Subcommittee Chairman and 13-term incumbent, Paul Kanjorski (D-Pennsylvania). When compared with the fact that only 3 of the 29 HFSC Republicans will not be here next year, all of whom retired to run for other offices, the impact of the elections on the House majority party becomes clear.

On the Senate side two Democrats and two Republicans retired from the Senate Banking Committee (SBC). There was also a Republican member who lost his primary bid for another term so a total of 5 of the 23 SBC members will not be returning.

Since election night, DC denizens have been focused on who will be in power during the next Congress, and there are several possible changes afoot. In the House, Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama), the current HFSC Ranking Member, is seen as the favorite to become the new Chairman, in part because he has two years remaining on his six-year Republican-imposed Chairman/Ranking Member term limit. However, Ed Royce (R-California), a senior member of the Committee, has announced his intention to challenge Rep. Bachus for the Chairmanship. While there is rampant speculation among the chattering class, Rep. Bachus has the public support of the House Republican leadership, as well as many senior members of the HFSC, and is likely to become Chairman. The election for the HFSC Chairman will occur later this month.

For the Democrats, it is a safe bet that Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) will stay on as HFSC Ranking Member. Reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is one of the top priorities for the next Congress. Most people believe Rep. Frank will want to finish reforming the two agencies and work on increasing the availability of affordable housing before he leaves Congress.

On the Senate side, with the Democrats in charge and their traditional seniority-based Chairmanship kept in place, Senator Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) is in line to replace outgoing Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut). He is seen as friendlier to the financial services industry than Senator Dodd because of the large presence of credit card companies in his state. There may be a new SBC Ranking Member because of the possibility of Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) moving over to become Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee. If that happens, Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is next in line. However, it is too early to speculate whether Senator Shelby will leave the Committee and who will replace him as Ranking Member if he does.

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