Meet the Next Chairman

At a closed-door House Republican conference meeting today, nine-term Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) was selected by his colleagues to chair the House Financial Services Committee when Republicans assume power come January.

In the 112th Congress, Bachus will likely continue his conservative voting record and fulfill his stated intentions to make GSE reform and the reexamination of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173) —particularly the provisions related to the newly-established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and derivatives regulation—his top priorities.

Bachus has reserved some of his most pointed criticism for the CFPB, which he fiercely opposed during the congressional Dodd-Frank debate, and has often referred to as the “Credit Allocation Bureau.” In late November, Bachus joined fellow committee colleague, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), in sending letters to the inspector generals of both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, directing them to conduct an investigation and issue reports to Congress regarding the work currently being done by Treasury, the Fed and White House special advisor, Elizabeth Warren, to establish the CFPB. The letters cite "a clear absence of accountability and transparency" regarding the CFPB’s implementation and thus requires "rigorous" administration oversight. Bachus’s recent letters are part of a broader effort to “reinvigorate the committee’s oversight role,” in the next Congress. Bachus is expected to join with fellow Republican Darrell Issa (CA), the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to quickly initiate Dodd-Frank oversight hearings in 2011.

Although Bachus has served as the committee’s top Republican since beating out Howard Baker (R-LA) in 2006 and was considered the leading contender for the chairmanship, he was challenged this week by senior committee member Ed Royce (R-CA). However, Bachus was assisted by significant support from his senior Republican colleagues, as six senior Financial Services subcommittee members and the vice chairman all signed a letter on November 5 supporting his candidacy.

Bachus will replace outgoing Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), who is expected to reassume the role of ranking member, a position he last held in 2006.

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