In this week’s roundup, committees in the House of Representatives continue to reorganize as they reflect the recently inaugurated Democratic majority. The House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the financial industry and the work of the Federal Reserve, the Department of the Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission, selected a new chair to lead the legislative organization. Also, nearly one week after becoming the longest federal government shutdown in history, the standoff between Congress and the president that started over border security has little end in sight. The House continues passing funding stopgaps in an attempt to keep parts of the government running, but these have been shot down by the Senate and President Trump, leading to a situation where many federal workers are still going without pay and agencies are further scaling back operations.
House Financial Services Committee Takes Shape
Responsible for overseeing banking, insurance, real estate, public housing, securities and other financial issues, the House Financial Services Committee has a new leader.
The HFSC will be led by progressive Democrat Maxine Waters, who was appointed during the 116th Congressional Session. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., outlined some of her top priorities this week in a speech at the Center for American Progress, her first official remarks as chairwoman.
Waters remarked on financial stability, her concerns for the potential weakening of regulations, . “[I]n Dodd-Frank we put in place robust reforms for our largest and most complex financial institutions, including increased capital, reduced leverage, improved liquidity … all designed to improve financial stability,” she said. “The Committee will be paying close attention to whether financial regulators try to weaken these important reforms, and keeping an eye on the big banks and their activities, including by holding many hearings.”
Other priorities for the House Financial Services Committee in the 116th Congress outlined by Chairwoman Waters include strengthening and supporting:
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Affordable Housing
- Diversity and Inclusion in the Financial Services Sector (including the creation of a House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion)
- The World Bank and International Monetary Fund
- Sanctions on Russia
- Bipartisanship in the Committee
Consumer protection continues to be a recurring theme and focus of the HFSC under Democratic leadership.
Additions to the HFSC Democratic ranks were announced this week as well.
Freshmen appointed include:
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
- Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
- Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.)
- Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)
Newly appointed incumbent Democrat members include:
- Alma Adams (D-N.C.)
- Cindy Axne (D-Iowa)
- Sean Casten (D-Ill.)
- Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.)
- Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
- Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.)
- Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.)
- Alfred Lawson Jr. (D-Fla.)
- Ben McAdams (D-Utah)
- Dean Phillips (D-Minn.)
- Katie Porter (D-Calif.)
- Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam)
ACG is committed to educating both new and existing members of Congress on the substantial benefits produced by middle-market businesses and private capital providers in their districts.
The government shutdown over border wall funding is now the longest federal shutdown in government history.
As key government agencies have begun to lose funding, the stalemate between the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate shows little sign of resolving. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to have a vote on any funding bill President Trump does not support, and House Democrats refuse to allow Trump’s $5.7 billion in border wall funding to be included in any bill.
The Democratic-controlled House has continued to vote on short-term measures to temporarily re-open the government while negotiations take place, but they have failed to gain much traction. It is unlikely any measure would garner the required number of votes in the Senate to override a presidential veto.
Essential agencies such as Transportation Security Administration and Food and Drug Administration have started requiring workers to report to work without pay, leading to employees increasingly refusing to come to work. Other agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Treasury, are working on skeleton crews. The Internal Revenue Service has reported that federal tax refunds will still be issued, but audits will not be conducted.
President Trump has publicly stated he is considering announcing a national emergency and using emergency funds to build the wall, which would be faced with challenges by Democrats in the courts.
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Maria Wolvin is ACG Global’s vice president and senior counsel, public policy.
Ben Marsico is ACG Global’s manager of legislative and regulatory affairs.