Democratic House members won’t pick a successor to retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in the top spot on the House Financial Services Committee for a year, and it’s far from a sure thing that the member next in line, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), will get the nod.
Waters is currently the subject of an investigation by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for having sought aid to a Boston community bank in which her husband served on the board. There is no timetable for the panel to complete its investigation and if the panel concludes there was any wrongdoing it could reduce her chances to succeed Frank.
Waters is a supporter of credit unions, and a cosponsor of legislation to raise the cap on member business loans. At a recent hearing on a bank deregulation bill, she declared herself a supporter of credit unions and community banks and said she wanted both to do even more to spur job creation.
CUNA Senior Vice President Ryan Donovan said that Waters is “very supportive of what credit unions do in serving the underserved. We have a good relationship with her and she’s always willing to listen.’’
NAFCU Vice President Brad Thaler said while it is a “bit early” to know who might become the top Democrat on the panel, Waters has had a good record on credit union issues. He also said that Waters has been keenly interested in issues surrounding Government Sponsored Enterprises such as FannieMae and and FreddieMac and whose issues will likely be top priorities for the panel.
Frank announced Monday that he won’t seek reelection next year to the seat he has held since 1981.
Decisions about the chair or ranking minority members of committees are made by the Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee, usually during the lame duck session that follows an election. The full Democratic caucus must ratify the decision.
If the panel decides to bypass Waters, next in line is Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) who is also supportive of credit unions. She was the key author of legislation that Congress passed in 2009 overhauling credit card rules, including requiring additional disclosures to consumers.
Next in line is Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) who has been interested in issues relating to serving the underserved.
Donovan said it is possible the Democrats could circumvent seniority and go with Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), who is the sixth-ranking Democrat on the panel.
“Any discussion of possible successors [to Frank] that doesn’t include Watt would be incomplete. He is regarded by many as one of the members on the same par intellectually as is Frank,’’ Donovan said.
Gutierrez, Maloney and Watt have all received campaign contributions from credit union political action committees. None is a cosponsor of the legislation to raise the cap on member business loans.