WASHINGTON — The House Democratic Caucus formally elected Rep. Maxine Waters Tuesday as ranking member for the House Financial Services Committee.

The California Democrat had been the presumed choice to take over the seat since her name was cleared in a long-running ethics investigation that concluded in September. She will succeed outgoing ranking member Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is retiring.

A looming question for Waters remains what kind of relationship she will be able to forge with the committee's new chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. Hensarling is an avowed free-market conservative who has strongly criticized the Dodd-Frank reform law and has said he wants to privatize government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect, defend and implement the important provisions of Dodd-Frank, which will continue to strengthen our financial system," Waters said in a press release on Tuesday. "I understand that regulatory certainty is an important aspect of growing our economy, and remain committed to ensuring clear and transparent regulation which creates the space for innovation, safety and soundness.

"I am grateful for the opportunity over the next Congress to work on the key issues facing our financial system. Housing finance reform, in particular, will be crucial to ensuring the long-term success and stability of our economy," she added. "I believe we need a financial system that facilitates economic opportunity and wealth creation for all, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues towards that goal."

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