Nov 11, 2018

Maxine Waters' oversight agenda after Dems' midterms win

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

With control of the House of Representatives, Democrats now control the House Financial Services Committee, which will almost certainly be chaired by Maxine Waters. Waters has been on the committee for 28 years, which means that if anybody can get things done, she can. What can we expect under her gavel?

Be smart: With Republicans controlling both the Senate and the White House, don't expect a raft of progressive legislation in the next two years. But Waters doesn't just have an aggressive oversight agenda — she also has subpoena power, and she won't be afraid to use it.

  • Wells Fargo recently admitted that 545 of its customers lost their homes after being improperly denied loan modifications that would have lowered their mortgage payments. With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rendered otiose by Republican control, expect Waters to step into the breach and start taking names.
  • Deutsche Bank is deeply intertwined with both Donald Trump and Russian money laundering; it has much to fear from Waters. Go deeper.
  • Also on Waters' list of priorities: housing, flood insurance and payday lenders.
"I have not forgotten you foreclosed on our houses. ... What am I going to do to you? What I'm going to do to you is fair. I'm going to do to you what you did to us."
Maxine Waters, to the banks, at the Black Women Network Breakfast on Nov. 2

What else is happening: The midterm elections changed the business landscape with both ballot measures and with new oversight in the House. Minimum-wage increases passed in Missouri and Arkansas, both of which were states where Republican lawmakers refused to make such a change on their own. Those statewide increases come on top of many city-level hikes.

Cannabis was also on many ballots:

  • There was further legalization of marijuana in Michigan, Missouri and even Utah.
  • Marijuana bulls were encouraged by the firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions, an adamant foe of the drug. It's unlikely that any of his successors will care as much about cannabis as he does.

Why it matters: Minimum wage hikes work, and voters know it. And while marijuana is going to remain illegal at the federal level for the foreseeable future, there is now a decent chance that Congress might pass a law ensuring that cannabis companies can be banked. That's a vital step for any industry.

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