One-Time CU Foe-Turned-Advocate Spencer Bachus To Head Financial Services Committee
WASHINGTON – Rep. Spencer Bachus, an Alabama Republican who was one of just seven House members to vote against HR 1151, the landmark CU Membership Access Act in 1998, but has proven a strong credit union supporter since then, on Tuesday was chosen by his Republican colleagues to chair the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress.
Bachus, who won a 10th term in November, easily beat back a challenge from California’s Ed Royce, another strong credit union supporter. The support of the Republican leaders will be critical in the next Congress after credit unions lost several key allies in this year’s mid-term elections, including its leading champion, Democrat Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania.
The ascension of Bachus, a staunch conservative, to chairman of the committee signals a major change in direction for the key panel for credit unions from the activism of Chairman Barney Frank, the Massachusetts liberal who championed reform of credit card, overdraft and financial services reform.
Bachus was slow to warm to the credit union cause, emerging first as a sometime opponent of credit unions on behalf of the banks, then as a critic of NCUA through its hiring scandal in the 1990s. But he has become a strong ally of credit unions in recent years, supporting efforts for regulatory relief, an increase in member business lending and the corporate credit union bailout.
Bachus, who served as chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions until the Democrats won control of the House in 2006, has indicated his agenda will include efforts to roll back several provisions of the recently passed Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and to end the federal conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Senate Banking Committee will be chaired in the next Congress by Democrat Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who will get a head start on leading the panel tomorrow when he chairs a hearing on NCUA’s handling of the corporate bailout.