Dodd a Spectator
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd acknowledged last week it was a strange feeling to watch his Senate seat up for election and not be on the ballot. The Connecticut Democrat, who announced early this year that he would retire and would not run for re-election, however, said he has no regrets about his decision.
"It was a little weird, and going to vote yesterday was a little bittersweet, but those are normal emotions, I think, after 36 years of being on a ballot or being in office and knowing it's coming to a close," he said. "I'm convinced more and more I made the right call in watching some of the results last night and knowing what these candidates went through."
Though Democrats lost six seats in the Senate, Dodd said the shake-up could actually liberate members to work across party lines rather than feeling that have to stick with their caucus.
"In some ways, I've always felt the worst number for the Senate … was 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans, because … everyone had to stick together," he said. "The numbers we're looking at here will require a lot more cooperation, and my sense is it may not be as difficult."
Dodd said he believes Sen. Tim Johnson, who is expected to chair the banking panel next year, will work well with Richard Shelby, the lead Republican.
Dodd said that Shelby, a veteran of the committee and former chairman, appreciates how hard it is to move things along and allowed Dodd to press ahead with legislation even if he didn't ultimately support it.
Dodd said he expected the same model in the next Congress.
"I think you'll get cooperation," he said. "I think Tim is going to find Richard Shelby a solid legislator."
Dodd said some people might underestimate Johnson due to difficulties stemming from a brain aneurism a few years ago that affected his speech and mobility.
"Tim is a good guy to work with," Dodd said. "He's very straightforward. He's very firm, very strong, a lot stronger than people think. In some ways they shouldn't confuse his physical condition — which has made it difficult for him, but not impossible at all — as some indication of his steeliness when it comes to issues."
Like Johnson, Dodd said the notion of repealing the recently enacted Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law is far-fetched.
"I know there is talk about repealing everything that happened over the last two years, but I don't suspect that is going to happen — financial reform particularly," he said.
"One of the things that the industry is adamant about is some certainty and getting to some certainty quickly, and the last thing that I think the financial industry would need at this juncture is to have all of the sudden some effort to repeal parts of this, leave it up in the air as to where it's going to go."
GOP House Contest
Two House Financial Services Committee members are battling for a spot in Republican leadership. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a budget hawk and former aide to former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, coordinated announcements with his friend Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana that he would run for chairman of the Republican Conference just as Pence announced he would vacate that post.
Although Hensarling has already collected a load of public endorsements from senior GOP leaders, including Rep. Eric Cantor, the expected next majority leader of the House, Tea Party movement leader Rep. Michele Bachmann is throwing her hat in the ring to challenge the Texas Republican.
Some pundits said Bachmann feels she is owed the post given the Tea Party's role in helping the Republicans retake the House.
Bachmann "is pretty sure that she was an integral part of the Republican victory at the polls. And so she'd like to be rewarded for her efforts," an article at salon.com said. But, the article said, there's "just one slight problem: she's a prominent national Republican solely because she says insane things on television, not because of her leadership skills or policy chops."
In a letter obtained by Politico, Bachmann tried to suggest she's more conservative than Hensarling, which many in the blogosphere say is not the case.
Bachmann says in the letter that she brings "strong principled conservative values, a proven level of experience, effectiveness with our friends in the local and national media, and an energetic national constituency that reflects the results of Tuesday night. It is important that our conference demonstrate to the people who sent us here that their concerns will be tirelessly advanced at the table of leadership."