WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., was formally named Banking Committee chairman Thursday, returning to the post he held in the last GOP-controlled Senate.

Shelby, who previously led the panel from 2003 to 2006, was elected by Republican members of the committee on Wednesday, and approved by the Senate Republican Conference on Thursday. He was widely expected to take the gavel after the GOP retook the Senate in the November elections. However, as a result of his previous chairmanship, under caucus rules Shelby can only lead the committee for two more years.

"It is an honor to lead the Senate Banking Committee in the 114th Congress," the Alabama lawmaker said in a press release. "I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to implement policies that will foster economic growth."

Shelby, who came to the Senate in 1987 and switched parties to the GOP in 1994, has earned a reputation as a conservative lawmaker. But he is also known as a dealmaker who can work with members across the aisle. He is expected to pursue legislative changes to the Dodd-Frank Act and focus on housing policy during the course of his term.

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