After Democrats won the House of Representatives in decisive fashion in the 2018 election, committee chairs shifted radically. Rep. Maxine Waters of California became the first woman and first black lawmaker to serve as chair of the important House Financial Services Committee. Waters, at 81 years young, took a strong hold of the Committee in January 2019 and hit the ground running, vowing to make big changes on behalf of the American people.
In the midst of so much other news crashing down on us daily, much of what this Committee has accomplished has gone under the radar. It is very instructive, therefore, to take stock of their work, and Rep. Waters has greatly aided in this goal by submitting a report (written on behalf of the Democratic majority) that lays out the basics and many details.
Before we look at some of the Committee’s work, it is instructive to take note of some of its members, including a number of “freshmen,” because they have made news in other ways throughout the year.
- Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), widely referred to as “AOC” who recently endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for President
- Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
In early 2019, Rep. Pressley gave an interview to the Boston Globe, where she explained why she wanted a spot on this Committee. She had originally run for Congress “to address inequality in her district and believes that a spot on the committee will allow her to continue work she’d already been doing locally on consumer debt, affordable housing and consumer protection.”
Other Committee members that may be familiar to readers include:
- Gregory Meeks, New York
- Al Green, Texas
- Jim Himes, Connecticut
- Stephen Lynch, Massachusetts
- Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii
- Madeleine Dean, Pennsylvania
- Denny Heck, Washington
The make-up of the Committee is comprised of a number of women and men of color.
Some overall uplifting statistics from 2019 are noteworthy:
- 55 Committee bills have been passed by the House.
- 50 bills have passed with broad bipartisan support.
- 57 bills introduced by new Committee members passed in Committee or in the House.
On the flip side, Chairwoman Waters’ reports notes the following (on page 16, complete with Grim Reaper image): “Not so fun fact: There were over 250 bills passed by Democrats in the House that are currently sitting in what is now known as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ‘legislative graveyard.’ 47 of them are from the House Financial Services Committee.”
So, from the conservative perspective, from that of privileged, often wealthy (mostly male) leaders who do not want to be regulated or curtailed in any way, it is easy to see why many of the victories and successes noted by Democrats in Rep. Waters’ report may not be viewed in the same way by the Republican minority in the House, by Republican Senators, or by Leader McConnell!
Here is a sampling of Committee accomplishments; reading the report in its entirety, of course, provides substantially more information.
- Under the heading “Bringing Bipartisanship Back,” the report notes the unanimous Committee passage of at least 11 bills.
- Under “Protecting Consumers and Investors,” the report notes 10 bills that have passed the House on issues ranging from transparency standards and whistleblower protection to investor protection and capital markets fairness.
- Affordable housing was the subject of nine bills that passed the house, while another eight passed bills dealt with national security and resiliency.
- Three bills each that passed the House dealt with creating and preserving jobs and prioritizing diversity.
Another portion of the Committee report, “Word on the Street,” quotes advocates on the successes of the Committee in the 116th Congress. Those advocates include:
- The National Consumer Law Center
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition
- Consumer Reports
- Council of Institutional Investors
- National Bankers Association
- The Bank Information Center
Congratulations and thanks are in order to Rep. Maxine Waters and all the members of the House Financial Services Committee for the excellent work they are doing on behalf of the American people, especially in the face of powerful forces that are doing everything in their power to stop progress. We look forward to more successes from the Committee. And perhaps, in the 2020 election, Leader McConnell will be defeated, followed by more senators coming around to bipartisan thinking and our country being all the more strengthened in the process.