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A number of incoming Republican House members who helped deliver the chamber for the party are jockeying for a coveted spots on the House Financial Services Committee, the influential panel that oversees the banking, insurance, and real estate industries.
Among those Republicans seeking committee slots are Reps.-elect George Santos (N.Y.), a businessman who flipped a seat within commuting distance of Wall Street; Zach Nunn (Iowa), who ousted a Democrat in a district that includes Des Moines; and Erin Houchin (Ind.), who will be replacing a Republican who currently sits on the committee.
The lobbying for these Financial Services positions is part of a larger scramble by incoming members to land spots on committees that could help members cement support from constituents back home as well as smooth re-election efforts in two years, particularly in more competitive districts.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who’s in line to chair the Financial Services Committee next year, said he’s talked to “just about everyone who has an interest” in joining the committee and was excited for the newest members.
“We’ve got a great crop of folks who have a smart dynamic and would be incredible members of the committee,” he said in an interview.
McHenry has said he plans to make inflation a top issue for his panel as well as examining key regulators and banks, advance business-friendly legislation, and consider potential regulations on cryptocurrencies.
Top Republicans in the coming weeks will dole out committee assignments for the entire conference. On Tuesday, they selected members to sit on the Steering Committee that makes those assignments.
Newcomers face a competitive process to get on the panel, which is one of the larger committees in the House. While Republicans picked up enough seats to constitute a majority on House committees, the narrow majority means there won’t be as many seats to take away from Democrats.
Prospective members are helped by the fact that a handful of current Republicans on the panel won’t be in the House next year, including Reps. Ted Budd (N.C.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), and Van Taylor (Texas). Budd was elected to the Senate, Zeldin unsuccessfully sought the New York governorship, and the scandal-plagued Taylor abandoned his re-election campaign.
Santos, a former Wall Street financier with stints at Citigroup. Goldman Sachs, LinkBridge Investors, 3G Capital, Met Global, and Harbor City Capital, told reporters in Washington earlier this month that his professional background makes him a good fit for the panel.
“It’s a great committee, especially at the time that we’re living, to focus on bringing some resolve back to our country with good fiscal responsible policy coming out of Washington,” said Santos, who will represent parts of Long Island. “So, totally going for that committee.” During the campaign, Santos was criticized for defending former President Donald Trump and attending his speech near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021. While Santos later called the riot that day at the Capitol “a sad dark day in our history,” he also said Trump “was at his full awesomeness that day.”
Nunn, who unseated Rep. Cindy Axne (D) in Iowa’s southwest corner, in an interview said that his first two choices would be the Financial Services and Agriculture committees. He pointed to the presence of a “huge insurance market” in Des Moines, the state capital and the most Democratic part of his district.
“This is an area where I think we can start doing a lot of responsible investment and allow, you know, private ingenuity to take hold,” Nunn said. To do that, he said Washington needs to change the regulations on the financial sector and small businesses.
Houchin, who held onto the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R), hopes to also fill his seat on Financial Services to work on similar issues as she did in Indianapolis as a state senator, including data privacy. Houchin will represent a largely rural southeastern district anchored in Bloomington, a university town and tech hub.
“Rural banking needs a voice on the committee, and that certainly is part of the district,” she said in a phone interview.
She acknowledged it’s “difficult for freshmen to get those types of committees, but we’re certainly going to make a pitch for it, and hope that’s where we’ll end up.”
“We tried to be as helpful as possible in delivering the majority, and that can’t hurt,” Houchin said.
The Financial Services Committee also offers lawmakers a prime venue for fundraising from the industries it oversees, which can be a particular asset for those likely to face competitive campaigns in two years such as Santos and Nunn.
Some of the newcomers raised significant sums from donors employed by the securities, investment, real estate, and business services industries, according to campaign finance watchdog Open Secrets.
Santos raised $105,183 from donors tied to the securities and investment industry, more than any other category except retired people and leadership political action committees, according to Open Secrets. Houchin received $32,597 from those in business services, ranking just behind donations from leadership PACs and the retired. Nunn collected $79,175 from contributors in real estate and $73,600 from those with ties to securities and investment.
Sharon Presnall, the Iowa Bankers Association’s senior vice president for government relations and compliance, said it supported Nunn’s campaign after they agreed on the importance of keeping an Iowan on the panel.
“It’s really important that we have a member that sits on Financial Services,” Presnall said, “and so we were happy to hear that he was very interested in doing that.”
Houchin was one of the hundreds of House candidates that got financial support from the American Bankers Association, which advocates for the banking industry.
ABA CEO Rob Nichols in a statement this month congratulated the incoming majorities in both chambers and welcomed the members-elect.
“We look forward to helping them understand the vital role America’s banks play in our economy,” Nichols said.
With assistance from Emily Wilkins
To contact the reporter on this story: Zach C. Cohen in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org