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House Finance Chair Maxine Waters Wins Praise for Prioritizing Public Policy Over Raising Wall Street Cash—and Corporate Dems Are Miffed

"Sounds like Waters is doing a great job. She works for the people, not the special interests."

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has focused on passing consumer protection legislation and providing oversight of Wall Street during her time as chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, instead of raising money from banking interests—frustrating corporate-backed Democrats on the committee but winning praise from progressives. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Rep. Maxine Waters won praise Friday from critics of the cash-for-access U.S. political system amid reports that some Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee are frustrated at her refusal to do raise money from the industry she regulates.

Politico reported that Democrats on the committee have been disappointed with Waters's decision to focus on consumer protection legislation and Wall Street oversight—the stated purpose of the panel—rather than raising money at fundraisers and through direct contributions from wealthy banks and then doling out that cash to her fellow lawmakers.

At least one critic on social media wondered why the news outlet highlighted the Democrats' displeasure instead of questioning why "Members of Congress [expect] to raise money from those they're there to regulate."

"D.C. is sick," added Jack Mirkinson, deputy editor of Splinter News.

While the top Republican on the panel, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), has raised nearly $160,000 for his members, Waters has distributed just $10,000 to Democrats.

But the 15-term California Democrat told the outlet that the lack of funds being distributed throughout the committee's ranks is deliberate.

"This committee is no longer simply a 'juice committee,'" Waters told Politico.

Other House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) chairs have spent significant time and energy on raising money for upcoming elections to give their members a better chance of retaining their seats.

Although Waters still accepts corporate PAC money, she argued that working in the interest of voters is primarily what will help representatives to win their elections in 2020—not amassing funds from Wall Street interests who are used to contributing to lawmakers and being treated favorably in Washington in return.

"Waters said her primary focus during the first months of this year has been on organizing the panel and building a record of legislative accomplishments, including those that members can bring home to their districts," Zachary Warmbrodt reported in Politico.

Under Waters's leadership, the HFSC has held hearings on the persistent housing crisis in Michigan, state efforts to oversee student loan service companies, and the abuses of the payday loan industry.

The committee has also recently passed bills to make the federal Bank Secrecy/Anti-Money Laundering framework more transparent and efficient and to provide insurance discounts for first-time home buyers.

"We must never lose sight of why we were elected to office," Waters told Politico. "We were all elected to office to address the public policy needs of our constituents."

One social media user expressed hope that other committee leaders in Washington would take the same approach to their powerful positions.

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