WASHINGTON – GOP Rep. Judy Biggert, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, will be leaving Congress at the end of the year, after losing a tough race to former Democratic Rep. Bill Foster.
The Illinois lawmaker, who’s served seven terms, lost to Foster by a 16-point margin, in large part due to congressional redistricting. Foster first joined the House in March 2008, when he won a special election to replace former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. He also won a general election in November 2008 and served a full term, but lost his reelection bid in 2010 to a Republican challenger. Foster was also a member of the banking panel during his tenure, and has defended the Dodd-Frank reform law during his campaign.
“You had an extremely credible candidate running against you in a district where the demographics were also against you,” said Edward Mills, a financial policy analyst at FBR Capital Markets and former Hill aide.
Biggert, who serves as chairman of the subcommittee on insurance, housing and community opportunity, has been a critic of the Dodd-Frank reform law and the country’s mortgage finance system, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration. But observers note that she was also a lawmaker capable of reaching across the political aisle.
“The committee loses someone who worked in a bipartisan manner, and someone who had industry experience,” said Mills, noting that Biggert had a private law practice specializing in real estate, estate planning and probate law before running for public office.
Among her recent efforts, Biggert sponsored a bill that gave the FHA additional authority to improve its balance sheet and avoid further taxpayer bailouts. The bill passed the House by a big margin in September, but was not taken up by the Senate.
“This effort will likely come back into focus next week when the FHA releases its annual actuarial report – which we expect to be a disappointment,” said Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading.
Biggert has also been a vocal supporter of the insurance industry, which faces new scrutiny by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which is examining which institutions should be considered systemically important.
“With Biggert’s defeat, the insurance industry is losing a powerful voice on Capitol Hill,” said Boltansky. “This is especially noteworthy given that the election results allow Dodd-Frank rulemaking to continue and because the FSOC will likely be designating a number of the nation’s largest insurers as SIFIs early in 2013 – uncharted waters for the industry.”