The new Democratic majority on the House Financial Services Committee will keep a "watchful eye" on financial regulators to ensure they punish bad actors and do not weaken key regulatory protections, Rep. Maxine Waters, the committee's new chair, said Jan. 16.
Waters, D-Calif., outlined some of her top priorities at a Center for American Progress event in Washington. A major one, she said, will be ensuring financial regulators uphold the provisions Congress put in place through the postcrisis Dodd-Frank Act, such as bank capital and liquidity requirements.
The committee will also be "keeping an eye on the big banks and their activities, including by holding many hearings," Waters said. Potential companies whose leaders may be called up to testify in the House include Wells Fargo & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG, analysts have said.
She took aim at Mick Mulvaney's leadership at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, saying he "made it a priority to dismantle the consumer bureau from within." Mulvaney, who leads the Office of Management and Budget, has left the CFPB and is now acting White House chief of staff. But the committee will seek to hold Mulvaney accountable for his work at the CFPB despite his departure, Waters said.
The new CFPB director, Kathleen Kraninger, took office in December 2018, and "we will see what she does" as the agency's leader, Waters said.
Other priorities for the committee will include encouraging "responsible innovation [from fintech firms] with the appropriate safeguards in place" to ensure companies do not prey on consumers and discriminate against minority communities, Waters said. She also called for an overhaul of the nation's credit reporting system, saying there should be limits on credit checks for employment purposes and a reduction in how long negative factors stay on individuals' credit reports.
Waters said the committee will focus on figuring out the future of the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government took into conservatorship during the financial crisis. She laid out core principles for any possible legislation, including maintaining consumer access to a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and ensuring that the companies have enough private capital to protect against losses to taxpayers.
Diversity and inclusion will also be a key focus of the committee, the lawmaker said. "Diverse representation in [financial institutions] and particularly at the management level is essential to ensure that all consumers have fair access to credit, capital, and banking and financial services," she said.
Waters also said she is "very hopeful" that the committee can reach bipartisan consensus on several issues, including terrorism risk insurance, the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and shoring up the National Flood Insurance Program.
Democrats will not be "relying on this administration for much of anything" and will instead focus on passing bills in Congress.