POLITICO: Wall Street scourge Sherrod Brown to get ‘gigantic megaphone’ as Senate Banking chair

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POLITICO: Wall Street scourge Sherrod Brown to get ‘gigantic megaphone’ as Senate Banking chair

Brown is poised to lead the Senate Banking Committee, creating new headaches for finance industry executives.


Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of Washington’s fiercest critics of Wall Street, is poised to lead the powerful Senate Banking Committee once Democrats take control of Congress, creating new headaches for finance industry executives who will face greater scrutiny.

Brown, an unabashed liberal with a sharp populist edge, is planning to reorient the focus of the committee, which has been under business-friendly GOP control since 2015 and has placed a priority on deregulating the financial services industry.

“We’re under no illusion,” said Consumer Bankers Association President and CEO Richard Hunt, who represents JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and other lenders. “We have our work cut out for us.”

Brown’s agenda, according to people familiar with the committee’s plans, will zero in on expanding affordable housing, tackling the financial fallout of climate change and strengthening regulations that were loosened during the Trump era. Economic relief for Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic will be an initial goal. Racial justice will be a prominent theme across issues before the committee.

“For too long, the Senate Banking and Housing Committee has only delivered for Wall Street,” Brown said in a statement Thursday. “Under new Democratic leadership, we’re going to get to work for everyone else, and put workers, and their families, and what matters to their lives at the center of everything we do.”

Brown’s elevation to Banking Committee chair means that one of Congress’ strongest consumer watchdogs will be a key player in implementing economic policy in the Biden era. He’ll have not only the power to write new laws, which may be out of reach unless Democrats undo the legislative filibuster, but also hold headline-grabbing hearings and direct investigators to probe the finance industry.

“The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee has a gigantic megaphone and spotlight that he can use, and I expect will use, to identify problems, shape public opinion and change banking regulation and behavior,” said Better Markets President and CEO Dennis Kelleher, an advocate for Wall Street oversight who recently served on President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.

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