Journalism in the Public Interest

Meet the Likely House Committee Chairs—Who Promise to Roll Back ‘Job-Killing’ Regs


From top left, counter-clockwise: Reps. Darrell Issa, Spencer Bachus, Fred Upton and Joe Barton (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, we highlighted a few ways that midterm elections could affect some of the issues we’ve dogged in the past few months—the foreclosure scandal, financial reform, healthcare reform, among others.

Impending Republican control of the House means there will be new leaders on powerful House committees. Those committees oversee a number of issues we’ve covered, including the investigation of federal agencies, the strength of financial reform, and the future of energy policy.

Here’s a quick introduction—or reintroduction—to some of the lawmakers who will likely win these important chairmanships. Many of them, you’ll note, have stated publicly their opposition to “job-killing” regulation of the financial community and energy industry—in line with the GOP’s Pledge to America.

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Remember Darrell Issa, the Republican lawmaker who a New York Times profile nicknamed “Obama’s Annoyer-in-Chief” for his tendency to make a fuss on so-called “nuisance issues”? Assuming he becomes chairman, Issa will have subpoena authority, which means he’ll have the power to launch investigations into many of the suspicions he’s raised about the Obama administration.

Following the Republican gains in the House, Issa pushed back against fears that the investigations he initiates will be driven by partisan motivations.

“I want to prove the pundits wrong. My job is not to bring down the president. My job is to make the president a success,” he told reporters. “I’m going to stick to my knitting, which is waste, fraud and abuse, whenever possible.” 

Talking Points Memo flagged four likely issues for investigation, noting that Issa had more or less laid out his agenda for oversight of the executive branch in an earlier report. That report noted “hearings requested by the Republican Minority but ignored by the Democratic Majority,” including investigations into Fannie and Freddie, failures at the SEC, and inadequate response to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Issa has since told reporters that he’d likely focus on earmark reform and investigate the President’s use of advisers, or “czars,” who don’t have to go through Senate confirmation. He has also said that he will “absolutely” advocate granting subpoena power to the primary 74 inspectors general who serve as watchdogs at various federal agencies. Currently only the Defense Department’s inspector general has that authority.

House Financial Services Committee

With the shift of power to House Republicans, Rep. Barney Frank—whose name is on the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill—will be relinquishing his position as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

His most likely successor is Rep. Spencer Bachus, a Republican from Alabama who has previously issued the following statement pertaining to the financial reform bill:

“The administration will no longer receive a pass when it comes to aggressive oversight of their failed economic policies, and that includes extensive review of all the job-killing provisions in [the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act].”

Some of those “job-killing provisions” include the new rules requiring derivatives to be traded on exchanges and routed through clearinghouses, according to comments made Wednesday by Bachus. Putting derivatives on open exchanges, he told CNBC, “is just one example of something that is going to dry up liquidity, that is going to impact the economy, and is going to cost jobs.”

As chairman, he would also be overseeing the overhaul—or, as it might be viewed, the privatization—of government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bachus has said that severing government ties with the mortgage giants is necessary, though the “withdrawal process” may be painful for borrowers.

The House Republican Steering Committee has to vote to make Bachus’ chairmanship official. He faces a challenge for the position from Rep. Ed Royce, who announced on Wednesday that he is also vying for it.

Royce has posted on his website a recent article by American Banker stating that he is “not looking to repeal outright the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law” but is likely to “try and clip its wings.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee

Two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Joe Barton and Fred Upton, are facing off over chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to the Houston Chronicle’s FuelFix blog.

Rep. Barton, some may recall, is the lawmaker who famously apologized to BP’s then-CEO, Tony Hayward, for what he called a “$20 billion shakedown” of the company by the Obama administration. (Obama had met with BP executives in June to discuss setting aside $20 billion in an escrow account, from which to pay out damages for Gulf residents affected by the spill.)

The apology to BP—which Barton retracted that same day—is just one hurdle standing between Barton and the chairmanship. The other hurdle is technical.

Because Barton has served as chairman from 2004 to 2006 and then as ranking Republican, the GOP leadership appears to be interpreting its term-limit rules in such a way that would bar him from leading the committee for another term. The Chronicle explains:

To remain at the helm of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Barton would have to secure a waiver of the term limit rule. And, he would have to convince a GOP steering committee—and then a majority of the Republican party’s incoming House members—that he deserves the post.

Barton’s already started working on this. The Hill reported that he sent a letter to incoming GOP lawmakers on Wednesday, touting his record of opposing cap-and-trade and healthcare reform:

“Over the past four years, as Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, I have led the charge against radical cap-and-trade legislation, fought the new entitlements and mandates that are the rotten core of President Obama’s health care law, and consistently applied free market principles to legislative decisions,” he wrote. “It’s been an uphill battle, and I’m grateful that, thanks to your votes, the cavalry is riding to the rescue.”

If his efforts don’t succeed, Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, is next in line. His positions on energy issues are outlined in this recent op-ed he wrote for the Washington Times. In it, he argues that regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, and other agencies are “smothering the economy.”

“The government cannot buy or regulate its way out of this mess,” Upton wrote. “It's time for a new approach.”

Several other Republicans on the committee are also reportedly eyeing the chairmanship but are not expected to win over Upton. A power company lobbyist, however, told the Chronicle that the committee’s leadership may not matter much—both top contenders “have worked closely with the industry.”

“Whether it’s Mr. Barton or Mr. Upton,” said Scott Segal of Bracewell & Giuliani, “the Energy and Commerce Committee is going to be friendlier to the business community, more attentive to industrial jobs (and) more balanced in its approach to energy policy.”

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Ah yes, more promises aligned to serve the interests of those who lined the pockets of the elected officials with fat contributions.  Last time I checked, that wasn’t the middle class.  It is not who is elected, Rep. or Dem., but the process of getting them there that is broken.  When will Americans realize this?  Status quo with a steadily increasing gap between prosperity and poverty.

Oh and after a real busy four years in the House Veterans Affairs Committee watch just how slack and meaningless those hearings will quickly become and with rollbacks on what was accomplished, I Am!!!!!! Surprise me guys, but you won’t, you’re really to easy to read, your now ‘teabaggers’ don’t think wars and veterans of after the cheering on stops long back!

I hope that after these bought and payed for stooges of corporate America have gutted any regulations,the people will wake up to the fact that,although the Dem’s aren’t the greatest in the world,they are still a hundred times better than any of today’s Repub’s!

The best congress critter friends any corporation could want.

Nice homogeneous looking group of monkeys.

Ronald Fischman

Nov. 4, 2010, 4:56 p.m.

If Ms. Wang has the time or resources (will donate as soon as I have a paycheck!), perhaps she can find research on the value of tax incentives, infrastructure investments, R&D credits (except those that pursue legitimate R&D projects) and other direct subsidies to the rich who own capital. For my question, “capital” would also include large financial products that require public support to function.

Not including oversight to prevent the mortgage-backed securities fraud or industrial disasters like Bhopal or BP, I am guessing that this nation’s subsidies to the rich far exceed the entire social safety net, and may exceed public education as well.

Nissim Sasson

Nov. 4, 2010, 7:37 p.m.

Regulation is now going to the toilet, thanks to these Republicans, fake, liers, now the Banksters, Oil companies, BP etc won’t be regulated, In a time when all this mess was cause do to no oversight and no regulation these guys are already saying that “The government cannot buy or regulate its way out of this mess,” Don’t they know that the reasons Banksters did what they did and what they are doing now with these Fraudclausre its because there is no regulation? of course they know ! but the financial industry pay for their campaigns (chamber of commerce etc) and put them in the driver seat, so now they have to deliver for the financial Industry,
We were just started to go in the right direction ( i know very slow but at least) with Credit Card reform Financial reform, etc the reason we are not better now its because the regulation they pass was not enough, what we need its a lot more not less,  and now we are going again in the opposite direction so the Banksters can keep extracting the money and the wealth form this country with no oversight and no regulation, until everybody in this country gets to be poor

My favorite is Barton, the fool who apologized to BP.  I’ll need to do some reading on the late 19th, early 20th centuries to keep pace with our new leadership in the House.

I don’t think the new administration is going to accomplish ANYTHING—it’ll just be another continuation of the Party of No.  Their first priority is to get rid of President Obama, but that might backfire if they don’t stop voting along strict party lines and start voting what the constituents want.  I can’t see that happening, especially after the comments made by McDonnell yesterday.  I think we’re in for another 2 years of severe gridlock and nothing will be done that will help the middle class.  I think the most we can hope for is that the Republicans get kicked BACK out in 2012 because of their lack of response to what the American citizens want.  They’re more interested in what the corporations want because that’s who paid their way into their current positions.  Good luck with that for all of you who voted for them!!  I hope I can say “I told you so” at the end of this 2 years, but I’m praying that I don’t have to say that.

Don’t fret. The true face of republicans and tea baggers will be revealed to the People. When the call hearings on the previous health care and Stimulus (W’s idear), the People will see what’s really inside these forwarding measures.

Not to mention the infighting we’ll see.

Don’t worry, like Communism, these folks will collapse under their own ignorance.

I like the part of investigating the failures at the SEC. Let’s see the GOP in 1996 weakened the SEC, and in 1999 did away the Glass Stegall Act. They also gave permission to form a secret agency for the trading of energy which gave us ENRON, secret oil trading ( $4 gas anyone) and last but not least credit default swaps, all of which are illegal to ask any account of ! I don’t even know the name of the agency…do you ? In late 1999 Bryon Dorgen (D) N. Dakota and several other Congress persons stood on the floor and foretold the very economic mess we are in. The video may be in cyberspace. Yes by all means GOPers investigate the monster you gave birth to.

The first order of business for our media newshounds of the MSM might be to follow the trail of breadcrumbs to Issa’s electronics firm in California to the recent electronic problems with a variety of Toyota vehicles.  But Lindsay Lohan’s back in rehab so who has the time.


Nov. 7, 2010, 5:16 p.m.

The Republicans want to distract us with repealing Health care etc so they wont have to deal with the real issues, Unemployment, Fraudclosures, Loan Modifications illegally denied, Bail out to Banksters, Free Interest money to Bnaksters, Regulation, etc
What we need to do is organize
There were a Glen Beck Rally and a Insanity ,Fear Rally by John Stewart and Colbert, both were Jokes, none of them even mention the real issues: Banksters, Fraudclosures, Loan Modification denials, Unemployment, Free Interest money for the Banksters, the Bail out to Banksters, No Regulation to these Banksters so the Bnaksters can keep stealing the wealth from the middle class Stealing homes, etc
We need to organize a rally from all of the people that are unemployed, in foreclosure, trying to do a Modification, etc
If anybody makes a rally like this, please sign me in, or let me know how can i help to make one,  a real issues rally
Sign me in, Lets organize and go to Washington ! its our only hope we need to put real presure to this politicians specially the new ones in congress they need to know that we wont take it any more
Or at leats lets get signatures and send them in a letter to the politicians lets get 5+ million signatures that should scare them !

All we have had in this election is a changing of the “imperial” ruling committee. Until we allow more political parties to represent the “unseen” citizens of this country we will slowly slip downhill to another possible revolution for “democracy”.
With the “buying” of politicians by “persons” represented by corporations we indeed now have a fascist state.
The American people must learn that with no justice we will have no equality of power with the billions spent to outright buy elections.
And, with no justice, we can have no peace within our own country.
We are entering what I call “The Cruel Years” in the near and longtime future.
The middle class is being crushed; the ability of ordinary Americans to organize for whatever reason is being smothered.
And, Democracy, by both parties is being smothered, crushed and pilloried on a cross of gold.
Voting for a “lessor of two evils” is not democracy.
A POX on both major political parties in this country!

Money buys almost anything.  The average American fell for the Republican line that they are out to help you.  Cut taxes really means cut taxes for the rich.  I worked for government and, if you want to severely disable the laws and regulations, place an anti-regulator in upper administration, harass and/or give staff unmanageable case loads who are trying to enforce the regulations, bury the reports that speak about regulation violations, hire staff that are fundamentally against regulations, and underfund certain departments.  Oh, don’t hire staff with the proper training and education so that they don’t really understand what they’re doing.  Then, when things go wrong, you blame it on ineffective and incompetent regulators.

Nissim Sasson

Nov. 10, 2010, 4:17 a.m.

Regulations what regulations? that word is being erase from the american vocabulary more and more every day, so the Banksters can do wherever they wan to the american people watch this video and see for yourselves

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