Financial Services and Banking: Let the Oversight Begin
The new incoming chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has made it no secret that he intends to scrutinize various aspects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act and to conduct vigorous oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was created by Dodd-Frank.
Senator Shelby, who previously served as chair of the Banking Committee from 2003 to 2007, will only be able to serve as chair for another two years under Republican rules. Look for Senator Shelby and his likely counterpart on the House Financial Services Committee, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), to probe the CFPB on everything from privacy concerns about information in CFPB’s database to the agency’s plans for a new building. Also, Senator Shelby and Representative Hensarling are proponents of replacing the CFPB’s one-director structure with a five-member commission, and of requiring the bureau to receive its funding through the annual appropriations process rather than through the Federal Reserve. President Obama’s administration will no doubt fight any fundamental remaking of the CFPB by the Republican Congress.
Senator Shelby, who is no fan of Wall Street, also may find common ground with Democrats on the committee on capital rules for banks. He also has expressed concerns about the Financial Stability Oversight Council—which was created by Dodd-Frank—and the process for designating institutions as systemically important.
Representative Hensarling, who currently chairs the House Financial Services Committee, may face a challenge for the chairman’s position from Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK). If Representative Hensarling does prevail, he likely will follow much the same script as Senator Shelby on the CFPB. However, if a long-term reauthorization to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) is not accomplished in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, Representative Hensarling is likely to seek to end the TRIA program because he believes the private sector should be responsible for such coverage. Representative Hensarling also is a proponent of killing the Export-Import Bank of the United States, funding for which expires in June 2015.
Representative Hensarling also is a proponent of housing reform, and could focus attention on that issue in the new Congress. He crafted a bill to cut back on government involvement in the housing market, but that legislation failed to get enough support even from his own party.