House Republicans returning to power after an Election Day sweep in which they gained at least 60 seats will have to choose between two members of their own party as they select a leader for the panel that oversees Wall Street.
U.S. Representative Ed Royce of California, elected to his 10th two-year term yesterday, said he will seek the chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee, challenging Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, the panel’s ranking Republican.
“I think we need a strong chairman in this position,” Royce said today in a telephone interview. “I discussed this earlier today with Spencer Bachus and I shared with him that this is nothing personal.”
Bachus is still in line to take the Financial Services chairmanship from Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat, as Republicans take control of the House, according to interviews with lawmakers, aides and lobbyists. Representatives Jeb Hensarling and Scott Garrett, who are positioned to head subcommittees under Republican leadership, have said they expect Bachus to lead the panel, which oversees the banking industry.
Frank, who has led the committee since 2007, has been House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top deputy on the financial crisis and helped craft the financial-regulation law that bears his name. Bachus has served as the top Republican on the panel throughout Frank’s chairmanship.
“I’ve spoken to my colleagues on the steering committee and in leadership and am grateful for their expression of support and fully expect to serve as chairman,” Bachus said today in a statement referring to the panel that will select chairmen for the Republican-led House. “There is no lack of talent on our committee, and I look forward to implementing a new leadership style that will empower our strong bench of leaders to pass our legislative agenda.”
The winner will play a lead role overseeing implementation of the biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the Great Depression. The Dodd-Frank law, named for the outgoing Financial Services chairman and Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who leads the Senate Banking Committee, was designed as a response to a credit crisis that led to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and bailouts for financial firms including New York-based American International Group Inc.
Royce and Bachus both opposed the bill, which was signed into law in July by President Barack Obama.
Bachus and Royce have ramped up fundraising and donations for candidates and colleagues in the past two years, with Bachus ranking among the top donors to the Republican Party and the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
For Bachus, 62, winning the contest would complete a comeback from a 2008 stumble that saw him stripped of his power as his party’s lead negotiator on the $700 billion bailout plan.
Royce, 59, has made Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage firms operating under federal conservatorship, a focal point in his committee work, drafting a bill in 2003 that would have placed the government-sponsored enterprises under more restrictive oversight.
“I felt that since we now see the consequences of the failure to address these issues, I was going to step forward and run for chairman of the committee,” Royce said. “It’s time for a change in the way that way that we move forward in the House.”
Royce said a number of Republican colleagues have asked him to run and that he didn’t think the contest with Bachus would be “contentious.” He has been calling lawmakers for much of the day, according to two House Republican aides who have been briefed on the calls.
Lawmakers return to Washington the week of Nov. 15 for the last few weeks of the current Congress. The Republican Steering Committee, the lawmakers that select the chairmen, will complete committee assignments that week, according to two House aides.
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