House Chair Profile: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Financial Services Committee

November 30, 2018

It’s not easy to predict which issues will be at the top of the list for incoming House Financial Services Committee chair Maxine Waters (D-CA)—will she spend more time on Trump administration oversight or on defending and expanding financial services and governance regulations such as Dodd-Frank?

Waters’ reputation for being outspoken sometimes overshadows her legislative acumen and willingness to seek consensus.  In 2014, for instance, she built a bipartisan coalition that shored up the National Flood Insurance Program.  She worked across the aisle to protect the Export-Import Bank from an equally bipartisan group that targeted the institution as corporate welfare.  Frank Lucas (R-OK), who could be the committee’s Republican leader, said: “It is possible to negotiate with her and she’ll keep her word.  That’s an important thing in Congress.  Not everybody does that anymore.”

She did not mince words at a committee hearing in November about her priorities.  "Make no mistake, come January, in this committee the days of this committee weakening regulations and putting our economy once again at risk of another financial crisis will come to an end," she said, confirming her position as a defender of Dodd-Frank and other regulations on business.  Nevertheless, Waters’ efforts to sustain or increase regulation on banks and business generally will likely meet their end in the Republican-controlled Senate.  Last December, she opposed bipartisan House legislation to require transparency for proxy advisory firms.

Her committee has oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she supports and would strengthen.  Thus, she has broad authority to call not only bank executives, but also CEOs from other industries, before the committee for a potentially embarrassing or uncomfortable hearing.