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The Patrick McHenry-era of the House Financial Services Committee is starting off with a bang.
The North Carolina Republican on Thursday rolled out a major revamp of one of Congress’s most influential committees, shaking up its long-time GOP leadership structure and policy priorities.
Here’s what MM learned about McHenry’s agenda and general approach to running the committee after talking through the changes with him.
— New faces at the top — Lawmakers and lobbyists have spent months speculating about how McHenry would dole out subcommittee gavels. It’s the definition of Washington inside baseball — under-the-radar positions that most people don’t care about but are hotly contested because of the influence and career advancement opportunities they hold for ambitious members. McHenry had a tough decision to make, and he had to sit on it for several weeks, after Kevin McCarthy told incoming chairs to hold back assignments until his race for speaker was resolved.
The assignments were a dilemma for McHenry because the Republicans at the top of the most-prized subcommittees — capital markets and financial institutions — were hitting GOP term limits for committee leadership posts. That sparked questions about whether McHenry would enforce those limits for the two members — Reps. Bill Huizenga and Blaine Luetkemeyer — or would come up with some way to let them stay in place. Huizenga has been serving as the top Republican on capital markets, and Luetkemeyer was at the top of financial institutions.
Capital markets, which has jurisdiction over the SEC, was sought by a number of lawmakers including Huizenga, who spoke publicly about his ambitions, and Rep. Ann Wagner, who did not. Wagner, the only woman on the GOP side of the committee in recent years, spent the last two sessions as the top Republican on the diversity and inclusion subcommittee.
McHenry opted to reassign the old hands and elevate Wagner to lead capital markets. He picked Rep. Andy Barr to lead the financial institutions subcommittee, which in addition to bank regulation will also take on jurisdiction over monetary policy under McHenry.
Though Republicans had gotten wobbly on term limits in recent weeks — Rep. Virginia Foxx won a waiver to seek the gavel of Education and Workforce — McHenry upheld the mandate. McHenry himself will be term-limited at the top of Financial Services in two years.
“It means we’re bringing fresh views on all the subcommittees,” he told MM.
— Crypto is a real priority — McHenry is creating a subcommittee on digital assets, financial technology and inclusion. It’s his response to what he saw as a “big hole in how we structure the committee” amid the crypto meltdown and calls for new regulations.
He tapped Rep. French Hill to lead the new panel. Hill, who is pro-crypto, is one of the committee’s most experienced hands when it comes to financial regulation and policy, having led his own bank, serving at the Treasury Department and leading oversight work the last few years on central bank digital currency.
— The diversity test — McHenry decided to scrap the diversity and inclusion subcommittee set up by his predecessor, Rep. Maxine Waters. But in a twist, he’s pledging to keep the issue set on the committee’s agenda and make it a component of every sub-panel. It’s TBD what that really means for oversight and hearings. Democrats are already blasting him for the move (more on that below).
He told MM there are bipartisan concern about “the nature of equity in our society.”
Thank you — We appreciate everyone who shared kind words about our former colleague Blake Hounshell. POLITICO and the New York Times have set up a GoFundMe campaign for his family.
White House eyes GOP debt ceiling allies — POLITICO’s Jonathan Lemire, Caitlin Emma and Adam Cancryn report that White House officials have started reaching out to freshman lawmakers and are zeroing in on moderate Republicans in a bid to build support for raising the debt limit.
SEC sues Winklevoss twins, Genesis over crypto lending— The SEC alleged that crypto trading companies Genesis and Gemini, led by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, broke securities laws by offering products that promised customers high interest for loaning their crypto assets.
Our Sam Sutton and Declan Harty describe the move as “a significant escalation in SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s crackdown on the industry.”
Good news on inflation— Inflation in December slowed for the sixth straight month, according to Thursday’s CPI. It’s providing relief for consumers, though NYT’s Jeanna Smialek reports that “price increases are still unusually fast across a number of goods and services, from food to car maintenance.”
It means the Fed is on track to scale back the size of interest-rate hikes in February, WSJ’s Nick Timiraos reports.
Yellen plans Africa trip — POLITICO’s Gavin Bade has details on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to Senegal, Zambia and South Africa later this month. She plans to talk about the U.S. commitment to economic development and clean energy amid growing Chinese commercial influence on the continent.
U.S. Chamber CEO still figuring out what ‘woke’ means— Our Eleanor Mueller on Thursday asked U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Suzanne Clark about Republicans targeting big business for so-called woke capitalism and ESG investing.
“One of the things we’ve been debating is what ‘woke’ means,” Clark said during a press conference during the group’s State of American Business event. “I looked it up yesterday in Urban Dictionary — because I have a teenager, so I’m cool like that. And there were 25 or 30 definitions, and I stopped looking after a while.”
Clark said the Chamber is concerned about “this idea that everything should be political; that we should have red banks and blue banks.”
The Chamber is gearing up to make its case on the debt ceiling, preparing white papers and other information for lawmakers about the dangers of defaulting on the national debt.
Democrats slam McHenry for dropping diversity panel — Rep. Joyce Beatty, who led the House Financial Services diversity and inclusion subcommittee under Waters, told Eleanor that “my Republican colleagues have once again made it explicitly clear that they do not prioritize diversity and inclusion.”
Top Financial Services Republicans in their own words — Here’s a roundup of McHenry’s full subcommittee chair roster with a little on how they plan to approach their new assignments.
— Rep. Ann Wagner, Capital Markets — “I will work to strengthen our public markets, help small businesses and entrepreneurs access capital, and increase investor opportunities for main street investors.”
— Rep. Andy Barr, Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy — “I look forward to continuing the important work of oversight of the Federal Reserve System … I also look forward to exercising much needed oversight of other key financial regulators … to ensure that both financial institutions and their regulators are facilitating a safe, sound, diverse and accessible financial ecosystem that fosters growth and competition.”
— Rep. French Hill, Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion — “At a time of major technological advancement and change in the financial sector, it is our job to work across the aisle and promote responsible innovation while encouraging fintech innovation to flourish safely and effectively in the United States.”
— Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, National Security, Illicit Finance and International Financial Institutions — “For too long, international financial institutions and large investors have been complicit in China’s unethical and immoral actions, and I’m honored that Chairman McHenry has asked me to lead the Financial Services Committee’s efforts to stop it.”
— Rep. Bill Huizenga, Oversight and Investigations — “I look forward to leading the fight against this administration’s repeated attempts to ignore congressional oversight. Today is a good day for the American people, and a bad day for bureaucrats in Washington.”
— Rep. Warren Davidson, Housing and Insurance — “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Financial Services Committee to strengthen public policy within our jurisdiction by solving problems that help these markets better serve the American people.”
First look: House Republicans press Gensler on shareholder proposals, the ESG movement — GOP Reps. John Rose, Pete Sessions and Bryan Steil asked SEC Chair Gensler for details on how agency staff is handling rules around shareholder proposals that appear on public company proxy statements. They flagged concerns about groups pressuring companies to take environmental and social stances. You can read their letter to Gensler here.
News orgs want court to reveal SBF benefactors — Reuters: “Eight major media outlets on Thursday asked the U.S. judge overseeing Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal case to make public the names of two people who helped guarantee the FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder’s $250 million bond.”
Carlyle eyes Citi, Morgan Stanley execs for CEO role— FT: “Carlyle Group has sounded out two senior Wall Street bankers about becoming its next chief executive as the private equity group tries to conclude a months-long process to find a new leader after the abrupt departure of Kewsong Lee last year.
ConocoPhillips in talks to sell Venezuelan oil in U.S.— WSJ: “ConocoPhillips, which abandoned Venezuela after its assets were nationalized in 2007, is now open to a deal to sell the country’s oil in the U.S. as a way to recover the close to $10 billion it is owed by Venezuela, according to people familiar with discussions between the company and Venezuela representatives.”