January 2023 Advocacy Update
After an unprecedented Speaker race, some semblance of normalcy has returned to Capitol Hill. Following 15 rounds of voting and various concessions made with holdout GOP lawmakers, Rep. McCarthy (R-CA) was elected House Speaker in the early hours of Saturday, January 7. On Monday, the House also passed a rules package marking the official start of committee Chairs and Ranking Member selections, as well as the start of setting agendas. Meanwhile following the swearing in of new senators, the Senate adjourned on January 3. Both Chambers will be in recess next week for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and will return to Washington the week of January 23rd to begin the work of the 118th Congress. We expect legislative activity, including congressional hearings, to pick up in mid-February.
Looking back at the 117th Congress, despite the introduction of multiple debt collection-related proposals and attempts to pass other concerning bills that could impact the practice of law (i.e., ENABLERS Act), none ultimately were passed into law. Additionally, we were successful in having Congressman Mooney (R-WV) sponsor our NCBA/ABA-supported legislation, the “Restoring Court Authority Over Litigation Act,” and for the first time it was assigned jointly to the House Financial Services and Judiciary Committees. NCBA and ABA continue to work to garner broad bipartisan support for this legislation in the 118th Congress, as well as continue pushing back against troubling proposals that could negatively impact the industry and the practice of law.
Official House committee rosters are in the process of being announced. We know House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) will be led by Chair McHenry (R-NC) and Ranking Member Waters (D-CA), and House Judiciary will be led by Chair Joan (R-OH) and Ranking Member Nadler (D-NY). HFSC’s eleven new Republican members were also announced yesterday —De La Cruz (TX), Donalds (FL), Fitzgerald (WI), Flood (NE), Garbarino (NY), Houchin (IN), Kim (CA), Lawler (NY), Meuser (PA), Nunn (IA), and Ogles (TN)—with Judiciary’s anticipated six new members being announced next week. As a result of ongoing advocacy outreach, NCBA has built positive working relationships with key legislators on each of these committees.
On the Senate side, there will be a series of musical chairs among Committee Chairs and Ranking Members. We anticipate final committee rosters to be released during the week of January 23rd.
Given the shift to a 51-49 Democratic majority from the previous 50-50 party split, there will no longer be a power-sharing agreement in the Senate. Democrats’ majority – albeit slim – will be represented on all Senate committees (although final ratios are still being negotiated). The Senate Banking Committee will be led by Chairman Brown (D-OH) and Ranking Member Scott (R-SC), and the Senate Judiciary Committee will be led by Chairman Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Graham (R-SC).
CFPB Structure at Top of List
House Republicans across the board have identified oversight of the Biden Administration as a top priority for the 118th Congress. We expect the CFPB to be at the top of the list of regulatory agencies Congress will focus on. During December’s CFPB hearing with Director Chopra, HFSC Republicans criticized his “regulation by press release” approach and focused largely on the constitutionality of the Bureau’s structure following the Fifth Circuit ruling. HFSC Chair McHenry seemingly previewed what to expect from a House Republican majority, by stating to Chopra that in the 118thCongress “I think you’ll wish you tried harder to play by the rules.” We expect that any forthcoming action from the Bureau will see a subsequent onslaught of scrutiny from GOP lawmakers in the form of letters, bill proposals, and other Congressional inquiries that question the validity of any action and attempt to curtail the Bureau’s rulemaking agenda. That said, Chopra remains adamant in his dissent of the ruling by continuing to carry out a robust enforcement agenda. Democratic control of the Senate will prevent the same level of criticism from the Senate Banking Committee making legislative structural changes to the CFPB highly unlikely.
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