Big Ideas and Partisan Agendas: House Financial Services Committee Changes Hands

rawpixel-1055781-unsplashThe new Congress that began January 3rd brought with it not just a turnover in power in the U.S. House of Representatives, but also a wave of new members to the House Financial Services Committee, including a new chairwoman and top Republican. The new chairwoman of the committee is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

The shift in the power dynamic could pose a challenge on several pending issues over which the House Financial Services Committee has jurisdiction, including the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, data security legislation, the reauthorization of the terrorism risk insurance program, and international insurance and regulatory issues. All legislation addressing these vital issues typically goes through the House Financial Services Committee before becoming law.

The influx of new members on the Democratic side of the committee in particular poses a big test for Chairwoman Waters. Some of the new members appointed to the committee are among the most progressive in the Democratic Caucus, such as Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and avowed Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). At the same time, the pro-business New Democrat Coalition has expanded its representation on the committee to 16 members out of a total of 37 Democrats.

Balancing the competing ideologies of her committee members may be one of the most challenging aspects of Chairwoman Waters’ new role. If these newcomers demonstrate an ability to influence the Chairwoman, that influence could have a substantial impact on the policy goals of bills that are considered by the committee. If the progressive wing prevails, the legislation that emerges may be pleasing to that wing’s most ardent followers but will have little to no chance to pass in the Republican-held Senate.

Chairwoman Waters previously served as the top Democrat on the committee last Congress when the Democrats were in the House minority.  The top Republican, or ranking member, is Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who served as the Chief Deputy Whip during the 115th Congress (2017-19). Rep. McHenry fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who served as the House Financial Services Chairman during the 115th Congress. In addition, it was announced that Rep. William Lacy Clay, (D-MO), will chair the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. This is a change from last Congress when the top Democrat of the subcommittee was Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). The top Republican on the subcommittee will continue to be Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI).

PIA National has been actively meeting with new and returning members of the committee to begin educating them on the vital role independent agents play in delivering essential insurance products to consumers.

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