Finance Column » Your Money This Week » Next chief for Senate Banking?

Next chief for Senate Banking?

By Mark Hamrick · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Posted 12 pm ET

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announced yesterday that he will not be seeking another term as chief, noting that he will be 68 years old when the term is up and, "it is now our season to spend more time with our six grandchildren and in the state we love."

So that leaves the question: Who might be the next chairman? The "inside-the-Beltway" odds-making has begun ...

Why it matters

Leadership of the committee is important, because it holds significant power in decisions affecting the way Americans conduct their financial affairs.

On the Senate A-list

The committee is literally on the Senate A-list of committees that is governed by Senate rules limiting the number of panels senators may lead or hold membership on -- if you're on the Banking committee, generally, you may serve on only one other committee (but unlike "Fight Club," you can still talk about it.)

And speaking of A-list, the Banking committee regularly hosts testimony by the Federal Reserve chairman.

The panel, under Johnson's leadership, recently approved the nominations of Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission and Richard Cordray for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. The Cordray vote was split along party lines, and when the full Senate may take up the nomination is uncertain.

An elephant in the room?

Determining who leads the committee will first require clarification on which party controls the Senate after the 2014 election.

If the Democrats were to retain control, then they might look to Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York or Sen. Robert Menendez of New York as the next chairman.

The ranking Republican on the panel is now Mike Crapo of Idaho, who'd likely be seen as a possible GOP pick to head the committee, if the party were to wrestle control from the Democrats in 2014. Crapo favors changing the leadership of the CFPB to a commission-style, similar to the way the FDIC is run. Critics say Republicans are using the argument to water down the landmark Dodd-Frank legislation, which was an outgrowth of the financial crisis.

Sights set on 2014

Republican Mitt Romney carried South Dakota in last fall's presidential election, suggesting that the upcoming contest over Johnson's Senate seat could be a slugfest.

In reaction to news of Johnson's plans to step down, President Barack Obama issued a statement saying that Johnson had "worked tirelessly" among other things to "build a financial system that is better able to serve the American people."

What do you think? Who might be the next chairman?

Follow me on Twitter @hamrickisms.

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