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Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren Reportedly to Serve on Banking Committee

Banking lobbyists, Republicans fiercely opposed appointment

- Common Dreams staff

Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has reportedly been selected by Democratic leadership to serve on the Senate Banking Committee, despite massive opposition mounted by banking lobbyists and Republicans against appointing the former Harvard law professor, bankruptcy law expert and architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In this Nov. 6, 2012, file photo, Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. waves to the crowd before giving her victory speech, in Boston. (Photo: AP/Michael Dwyer) Warren, who bested Rep. Sen. Scott Brown to represent Massachusetts, will be the most junior member of the banking committee, Dashiell Bennett of The Atlantic Wire reports, so won't have final say on its agenda.

"Still, there isn't another place in Congress more suited to her interests or to her campaign strategy, which was built largely on a fight against Wall Street influence," Bennett writes.

But Warren's experience — including serving as Congress' lead watchdog overseeing the $700 billion bank bailout from 2008 to 2010 — left banks leery of her philosophy.

On Nov. 19, Andy Kroll of Mother Jones reported:

Aides to two senators on the banking committee tell Mother Jones the industry has already moved to block Warren from joining the committee, which is charged with drafting legislation regulating much of the financial industry. “Downtown”—shorthand for Washington’s lobbying corridor—”has been going nuts” to keep her off the committee, another Senate aide says.

Mother Jones continues:

The big banks' opposition to Warren, a fierce consumer advocate, is no shocker. She supported the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and she blasted Brown, who did vote for Dodd-Frank, for launching a "guerrilla war" to undermine its implementation. She backs the Volcker Rule, a limit on how much banks can trade with their own money. What may trouble the big banks most is Warren's call for revisiting the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated riskier investment banks from more staid commercial banks. Reinstating Glass-Steagall would mean breaking up sprawling Wall Street institutions such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America.

Warren has also struck a hard stance on the foreclosure fraud epidemic. During negotiations last year between state attorneys general and bank executives over a foreclosure fraud settlement, Warren suggested the banks cough up $20 billion. The figure angered members of the banking industry, who saw it as far too high. But Warren's view prevailed—and then some. The banks paid $25 billion in their settlement.

Responding today to reports of Warren's appointment, David Dayen in Firedoglake wrote:

Elizabeth Warren deserves to be on the Banking Committee. Almost nobody in the Senate has her credentials. The decision was Harry Reid’s and Harry Reid’s alone, so there was no protracted fight with obstructionist Republicans to navigate. And she’s nicely balanced out by Joe Manchin, at this point the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus.