For weeks, Democratic aides and banking lobbyists have denied claims that the financial industry was working to block Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., from winning a seat on the Senate Banking Committee.
Those denials were buttressed this week by Democratic aides who said Warren will receive a seat on the panel after indicating she wanted one. That move is no surprise: Boston has a large financial sector and Warren’s work setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau make her a no-brainer for the panel. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has not yet set a date for formalizing Democratic chairmanships and committee assignments, but official assignments are not expected until early January.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., is also expected to receive a seat on Banking, aides said.
Contrary to reports that unidentified banking lobbyists hoped to block Warren, industry sources and Democratic aides have insisted they know of no such effort. And Democratic aides said leading Democrats were eager to put Warren on a panel that fits her background. Banking is a fairly influential committee but not considered as influential as the tax-writing Finance Committee and, arguably, Appropriations.
Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Chairman Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has ties to Wall Street, helped recruit Warren to run for office. Schumer has not denied claims that he hopes eventually to succeed Reid as Democratic leader. Hence the New York senator is interested in winning the support of senators like Warren.
There could still be more changes to the Banking Committee. The two slots taken by Warren and Manchin will fill seats vacated by retiring Sens. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii., and Herb Kohl, D-Wis. But members often cycle on and off the committee each congress. In addition it’s unclear if the panel’s ratio of Democrats to Republicans will remain 12 to 10. Because Democrats made gains in the Senate in the November elections, the Democrats could gain a seat or Republicans could lose one, leading to a further shake up in the panel’s composition.