Much praise was bestowed on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd last week as his impending retirement from Congress looms just around the corner.
On Tuesday he was awarded the Philip Hart Public Service Award by Stephen Brobeck, the executive director of the Consumer Federation of America for "distinguished lifetime service to consumers."
Dodd was originally to have been feted by CFA alongside House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank at a dinner June 23, but the Senate conferees were negotiating the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill so Dodd was unable to get away.
"Fortunately he prevailed and deserves much of the credit for the comprehensive set of reforms that are far-reaching and pro-consumer, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … We will miss you greatly," said Brobeck.
Dodd received more praise at a hearing Thursday with federal regulators on the implementation of Dodd-Frank, where committee members and regulators took turns thanking the Connecticut lawmaker.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair noted it would probably be her last time to testify before Dodd and Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, who was ousted in the Republican primary by a Tea Party candidate earlier this year, calling the moment "bittersweet" and saying it had been a "pleasure" to work with them.
"I wish you well as you take on new challenges outside the Senate," Bair said.
But there was one notable slip of the tongue, when Sen. Richard Shelby, the panel's lead Republican, accidentally referred to the regulatory reform law as "Frank-Dodd," before quickly correcting himself by putting Dodd's name first. Dodd jumped in to help Shelby out, saying, "Let's wait and see how it works."
Walsh Says Nay
No one wants to make enemies on their first day of class.
But Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh was in a tricky spot at his first Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board meeting last week. After the other board members welcomed Walsh aboard and expressed support for an FDIC rule placing restrictions on securitizations, Walsh proceeded to be the lone voice opposing the policy. It was not totally unexpected, as the OCC had previously voted against the proposal. Still, the new guy wanted to make it clear it wasn't personal.
"Given the kind words of welcome that were offered, I feel slightly ungracious disagreeing with some of what has been said here," Walsh said before making his case against the rule.
But Walsh appeared not to have burned any bridges.
"John, I'm sorry in your first vote you're not voting with us, but thank you for being very collegial in your disagreement," said FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair.
Other items on the agenda gave Walsh a chance to go with the tide. He praised the FDIC for its work in crafting resolution authority for large financial companies. "I just want to take the opportunity to come back within the fold," he said.
Vacant No More
Lawmakers finally made progress last week filling seats on the Federal Reserve Board and giving the Federal Housing Finance Agency a permanent watchdog.
The Senate on Wednesday night confirmed Janet Yellen and Sarah Bloom Raskin to serve as Fed governors. Yellen, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, will succeed Donald Kohn as the board's vice chair. Raskin is currently Maryland's commissioner of financial regulation.
The Senate also confirmed Department of Justice prosecutor Steve Linick to be the housing finance agency's first permanent inspector general, a position that has gone unfilled since the FHFA was created in 2008. President Bush had selected Linick for the position, but the nomination expired at the end of the last administration.
Former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. official Robert Hartheimer is joining the board of the resurgent Sterling Financial Corp. Hartheimer is a former investment banker and served as the director of resolutions for the FDIC in the nineties. He is now president of the consulting firm Hartheimer LLC. He was formerly a managing director at Promontory Financial Group. Sterling, based in the Pacific Northwest, recently announced regulators had lifted its cease-and-desist order after the $9.7 billion-asset company raised $730 million of new capital.