WASHINGTON — Sen. Sherrod Brown, a top critic of the country's megabanks, will lead Democrats on the Banking Committee next year.

The Ohio Democrat was widely expected to take the ranking member slot, rising above several more senior members of the committee who serve on other panels or in leadership. Brown will likely lead alongside Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who is predicted to take over as chairman of the panel when the chamber flips to GOP control next year.

The move comes as the progressive wing of the Democratic Party gains momentum in the final two years of the Obama presidency. Brown joined other liberal members of the panel in voting against major bipartisan legislation to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this past summer, and has repeatedly raised concerns that the largest banks remain "too big to fail."

"This committee is about ensuring a fair set of rules for all financial institutions while protecting taxpayers and consumers," Brown said in a press release Friday. "We must ensure transparency and accountability for Wall Street and access to credit on fair terms for Main Street."

Brown has been an active member of the banking panel, serving as chairman of the subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit, and working on several key pieces of legislation.

He helped spearhead a bill passed by Congress earlier this week clarifying that the Federal Reserve can tailor capital standards rules for insurers, and worked with Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on legislation to significantly raise capital requirements at the biggest banks last year. It's possible he and Shelby could see eye-to-eye on issues like higher capital rules, though they're likely to diverge on other issues, such as oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Brown has also worked on several issues related to consumer finance, including mortgage servicing, and he's explored the possibility of raising the cap for systemically important institutions above $50 billion.

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