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Ranking member of Housing and Insurance subcommittee will not seek gavel in '19

The top Democrat on the subcommittee covering housing and insurance issues in the U.S. House of Representatives will not assume the chair when Democrats take over the chamber in January.

In an interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he decided "not to challenge" the seniority structure within his caucus, in essence handing control of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance to fellow Missourian Lacy Clay.

Democrats are still finalizing which members on the House Financial Services Committee will lead powerful subcommittees for the upcoming session of Congress. The Housing and Insurance subcommittee is tasked with broad oversight of housing programs and policy, including housing finance reform and public housing, as well as the National Flood Insurance Program and international insurance policy.

Cleaver said Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., will lead the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, where Clay served as ranking member, bumping Clay to the head of Housing and Insurance.

Cleaver has served as the Housing and Insurance subcommittee's top Democrat for the last four years of his 14 total years in Congress. He said his decision to step aside and not seek the chairmanship was personal.

"Some things are more important than getting the gavel," Cleaver said. "Friendships are one of those things," he added, pointing to his long-standing relationship with Clay.