Bachus Selected by Republicans as Wall Street Overseer

U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus has been selected by House Republicans to become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee when his party takes power next month.

The Alabama lawmaker, who has been the panel’s top minority member since 2007, was chosen during a closed-door conference meeting in Washington today. He will replace Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who led the committee during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and spearheaded the regulatory overhaul that bears his name.

Bachus, 62, is aligned with Republicans pushing for free markets and less-intrusive regulation. From the beginning of debate over what became the Dodd-Frank law, he led opposition to measures such as resolution authority to wind-down failing firms, calling them “back-door bailouts.” He also fought against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and questioned the legality of President Barack Obama’s appointment of Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren to an advisory position.

“We are committed to going title by title through the 2,300 page Dodd-Frank Act to correct, replace or repeal the job- killing provisions that unnecessarily punish small businesses and community banks that did nothing to cause the financial crisis,” Bachus said today in a statement.

‘Oversight Role’

Bachus said he plans to “reinvigorate the committee’s oversight role,” aligning with fellow Republicans including Representative Darrell Issa of California, the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who have pledged to keep watch on Obama administration initiatives.

Bachus received the endorsement of the Republican Steering Committee in a closed-door vote yesterday, helping clear the way to his selection by the full group of House Republicans. The slate chosen by the panel -- made up of House leaders, incoming committee chairmen and members representing different parts of the country -- is traditionally accepted by the conference.

“Members of our new majority have made a pledge to America to focus on the American people’s priorities -- helping small businesses create jobs, cutting spending, repealing the job- killing health care law, protecting life and reforming the way Congress works,” Representative John Boehner of Ohio, the incoming House speaker, said yesterday. The new chairmen are “committed to advancing these priorities,” he said.

Representative Ed Royce of California mounted a challenge to Bachus’s bid to lead the committee that oversees Wall Street, citing his own leadership in efforts to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before losses linked to subprime mortgages forced the government-backed firms into U.S. conservatorship. Royce and Bachus made presentations to the steering panel last week.

‘Many Challenges’

“I would like to congratulate Congressman Spencer Bachus on his selection as chairman of the Financial Services Committee,” Royce said yesterday in a statement. “During this critical time in our capital markets and our economy, I am committed to working with the chairman and members of the committee to address the many challenges we face.”

Bachus received $752,200 in the 2009-2010 election cycle from individuals and political action committees aligned with finance, insurance and real-estate companies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Frank, who will remain the senior Democrat on the panel, received $986,657 over that same period.

Bachus relied on his fundraising ability and relationships with Financial Services Committee members in the race for the chairmanship. The top seven Republicans on the panel -- the six ranking subcommittee members and the vice chairman -- signed a Nov. 5 letter supporting his candidacy.

He led a Republican effort against Obama’s financial overhaul bill that “succeeded in driving the reform debate and denying the Democrats the political ‘win’ they so desperately needed in the wake of other unpopular Obama administration initiatives like health care and the stimulus,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net

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