Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elizabeth Warren Said to Head to Senate Banking Committee

U.S. Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard University law professor and critic of Wall Street, is poised to join the Senate Banking Committee after she’s sworn into office in January.

Two Democratic aides briefed on the matter said Senate leaders intend to assign Warren to the Banking Committee, although a final decision on committee assignments won't be made until the new session of Congress convenes.

The aides asked not to be named because assignments aren't yet official.

Warren, 63, had been floated as a likely candidate for the committee seat, which would give her a role in writing banking legislation including revisions to the Dodd-Frank Act. The financial services industry and Warren have had a combative relationship since her calls for the creation of a consumer protection bureau.

Warren defeated incumbent Republican Scott Brown by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent in November to become the first woman senator from Massachusetts and heir to the seat held for 47 years by Democratic icon Edward Kennedy.

Warren ran for Senate after President Barack Obama decided not to nominate her as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a Dodd-Frank centerpiece designed to help protect ordinary Americans from shoddy financial products. Warren championed the idea as a lawyer and helped build the bureau as an Obama administration adviser.

Republican Opposition

The banking and financial services industry opposed establishment of the bureau and Senate Republicans banded together to block her nomination as director.

Republicans continue to attack the agency, calling for it to be changed into a five-member commission and subject it to congressional appropriations.

“We certainly plan to reach out to Senator-Elect Warren,” said James Ballentine, executive vice president of congressional relations and political affairs at the American Bankers Association. “That outreach will stretch beyond Dodd-Frank reforms, which is the corner many will try to paint her into.”

Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, is also expected to receive a seat on the Banking Committee, according to one of the Democratic aides. Manchin acknowledged he was pushing to get a seat on the committee.

“I would love to serve anywhere I can if I think I can help,” he said in an interview.