WASHINGTON -- Last week's national elections produced a major shakeup within the rank and file membership of the congressional committees that regulate securities markets just as the panels are preparing to deal with heavy legislative agendas in 1993.
Although there was no immediate upheaval among the committee and subcommittee chairmen, the turnover in the membership of the panels is the "biggest change in decades," said an aide to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees regulatory issues in the municipal bond and government securities arenas.
The aide's comments came as the committee and its counterpart, the Senate Banking Committee, are preparing to debate another round of bills next year to regulate financial advisers and the Treasuries market.
"We have a large number of changes that are the most significant in a long time," another aide said. "We've lost a lot of members on the telecommunications and finances subcommittee.
A dozen new slots are opening as a result of members retiring, being defeated, or running for other offices. It affects both Democrats and Republicans on the subcommittee," the aide said.
"People want an end to gridlock," said one committee source. "I think in terms of how that translates out to the issues before us is that members will be more inclined to support pro-consumer, pro-investor measures."
"On the Republican side, the four senior Republican members of Energy and Commerce are all gone," one industry observer said. "For the first time, a number of people who were junior or middle level are going to be moving into ranking positions on the subcommittee on the Republican side."
"I think we are heading into a period of congressional government," the source said. "I think Bill Clinton is going to be surprised by how little he controls. In the finance area, I see [Rep. John] Dingell, [D-Mich.], and [Rep. Edward] Markey [D-Mass.] controlling that agenda for the country."
"I do not see any bomb throwers in that group," the source added. "You will continue to see things worked out through compromise and consensus."
On the House telecommunications and finance panel, Rep. James Scheuer, D-N.Y.; Rep. Dennis Eckart, D-Ohio; Rep. Claude Harris, D-Ala.; and Rep. Matthew Rinaldo, R-N.J., are retiring, while Rep. Tom McMillen, D-Md.; and Rep. Don Ritter, R-Pa. lost their elections. Rinaldo is the ranking minority member of that panel.
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., currently a member of the House telecommunications and finance panel, may leave the panel because he is the leading contender to fill the Senate seat left open by the election of Sen. Al Gore, D-Tenn., as vice president.
On the full Energy and Commerce Committee, in addition to changes listed above, Rep. Norman Lent, R-N.Y., ranking minority member, and Rep. William Dannemeyer, R-Calif., are retiring. And Rep. Gerry Sikorski, D-Minn., Rep. Peter Kostmayer, D-Pa.; Rep. Terry Bruce, D-Ill.; and Rep. Clyde Holloway, R.La., lost elections.
In the Senate, half of the six Democtrats on the Senate Banking Committee's securities subcommittee will not return next year. Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., and Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., are retiring, and Sen. Terry Sanford, D-N.C., was defeated.
On the full Banking committee, three are five open seats: four Democrats and one Republican. Besides Wirth, Cranston, and Sanford, Sen. Alan Dixon, D-Ill., was defeated in his primary. Sen. Jake Garn of Utah, the ranking Republican on the committee, announced his retirement months ago.