Maxine Waters Intends To Use Her Gavel
Chairperson of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters, presented the ambitious agenda she intends to pursue under her leadership. Speaking at the Center for American Progress Action, an independent, nonpartisan policy institute
Tanden informed the audience that while corporate profits have risen 17%, wages have only risen 0.2% “Republicans have driven policies that have caused this. They have done everything to roll back Dodd-Frank. [Former interim head of the CFPB] Mick Mulvaney gutted the CFPB.” Tanden introduced Representative Waters by stating that “The House Financial Services Committee will need bold and decisive leadership. But I can think of no one more able, more dynamic, and more of a fierce leader than Representative Maxine Waters, who now leads the House Financial Services Committee. She has been one of the most prominent voices to hold Trump accountable.”
Many firsts for Representative Maxine Waters
Representative Waters is not only the first woman to lead the House Financial Services Committee, she is also the committee’s first African-American leader. As Tanden pointed out to the audience, “Representative Waters has been dedicated to greater social, economic and racial justice not only in southern California but all over the U.S.”
Before presenting her agenda, Waters enumerated the adverse effects of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. “The president is throwing a temper tantrum over this senseless wall.” She emphasized that the shutdown “has all but closed the door of the SEC, Wall Street’s sheriff on the block.” Moreover, “businesses trying to do Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) may be delayed because the SEC cannot approve their documents. This is hurting entrepreneurs.”
Waters also expressed concerned about the
In outlining her agenda, Waters made it clear that her “ongoing priority is that we have a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and strong regulations to protect consumers, investors, and the economy.” She promised to make sure that the CFPB’s role continues to be bringing “accountability and protecting consumers, investors and economy from abusive Wall Street practices.” She passionately reminded audience members that “this the only federal agency dedicated to protect consumers from being ripped off.” She expressed significant concern that the “Trump administration wants to destroy the CFPB. During the Mulvaney tenure, he made it a priority to dismantle the CFPB.” To strong applause from audience members, Waters stated that although “Mulvaney’s term at the CFPB may be up, his time for accountability is about to start.”
Waters also put all financial regulators on notice. “I will keep an eye on regulators to make sure they fulfill their responsibilities.” She reminded the audience that Dodd-Frank was about including robust reforms for the largest and most complex financial firms in the U.S. These reforms included requiring more capital, liquidity, less leverage, and well-define bank resolution and recovery plans, also known as long term financial plans.
Representative Waters spoke enthusiastically about the fact that fintech firms could help those Americans that have been excluded from accessing credit. Yet, she stated that “We need safeguards to protect consumers without displacing community banks and credit unions.” She explained that while “fintech can help those who have been excluded, there are risks that minorities could be preyed upon. We need to eliminate risks and meet opportunities.”
A comprehensive overhaul of credit reporting agencies is very much on Waters’ agenda. “It is critical for Congress to reform credit reporting agencies. We must shift the burden of correcting errors from consumers to credit bureaus.”
Representative Waters dedicated a significant amount of time talking about housing and housing finance as part of her agenda. In no uncertain terms, she stated that “This country is facing a housing affordability and homeless crisis. And this is in the richest country in the world. We are neglecting children, veterans, women fleeing domestic violence, and prisoners who have paid their debt to society.” She intends Congress to provide a surge of funding to work on reducing homelessness. “Just like Congress puts billions of dollars to defense, we need resource for homeless. I will be requesting $13.27 billion in funding over 12 years for programs to prevent homeless.” She also promised listeners that her committee needs “to look at housing finance. Freddie and Fannie have been in conservatorship for a decade. They did not cause the crisis contrary to Republican claims. Predatory lending and poor credit standards caused the crisis.”
She emphasized that “Transparency and standardization are needed, so that there is level playing field for community banks and credit unions. To applause, she stated that “Underserved borrowers should not be overlooked. Finance reform needs a comprehensive strategy to affordable mortgages and rentals.” Yet, having access to housing ”also means rigorous implementation of fair housing laws. Let’s not forget that has been Trump sued for serious violation of Fair Housing Act. Under Trump, the Fair Housing has been undercut.” Representative Waters intends to introduce a bill to strengthen the Fair Housing Act.
She was very pleased to introduce that new to the House Financial Services Committee, there will be a subcommittee, diversity and inclusion. “As a nation we are increasingly diverse. Half of Americans will belong to a minority group by 2044.” Representative Waters explained that diversity and inclusion are important not only for fairness but because they “strengthen the financial performance of companies.” She is concerned that the General Accounting Office has found “continued low representation of women and minorities at financial institutions, especially at senior levels.” Additionally, diversity is important for Representative Waters because she believes that it enables “all consumers to have fair access to credit.” She proudly stated that she was instrumental in working on section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Act which “directs federal agencies to include offices of women and minority inclusion.” This is a major step forward. Yet, “laws that promote gender, ethnic and racial equality are only as good as their enforcement. Creating a subcommittee on diversity and inclusion will be the first of its kind in congress.“
Part of the Committee’s agenda will also be to work more closely with multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and regional development banks with programs to end global poverty.
Waters stated that “Ranking leader Patrick McHenry and I have a good working relationship.” She stated several times that she hopes to work on various pieces of important legislation, such as flood insurance and Eximbank, on a bipartisan basis. “It is a new day in the House Financial Services Committee. I will work for opportunities for all hardworking Americans, and I will hold this administration and appointees accountable.” Waters told Tanden, she is happy to work with her colleagues across the aisle” if they will help her protect consumers. “But if they don’t, I have the gavel.”
I have been dedicated to providing clients high quality financial consulting, research, and training services on Basel III, risk management, risk-based supervision, capital markets, financial derivatives and Dodd-Frank for over 25 years. I have extensive global expertise and have led projects in the financial and energy sectors in over 30 countries in English, Russian, and Spanish.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.