Now that Democrats have taken control of the House, Representative Maxine Waters is in line to lead the financial services committee, a panel with significant clout over banks, investment firms and their regulators.
She’s pledged an aggressive agenda that could trigger unwelcome headlines for the finance industry: holding lenders accountable for abusing consumers, launching fresh investigations into companies such as Wells Fargo & Co. and Equifax Inc., and scrutinizing bank-friendly watchdogs installed by President Donald Trump.
Yet if Wall Street can endure bouts of turbulence, it will probably stay on the same pleasant flight pattern that has defined much of Trump’s first two years in office. That’s because Democrats lack the votes in the Senate to get their legislative priorities through Congress, such as repealing the president’s tax cuts. Also, Waters can harass the Federal Reserve and other regulators, but she can’t stop them from rolling back rules passed after the 2008 financial crisis.
“There will be a lot of YouTube moments, but not a lot of bill-signing moments,” said Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association. “There will be reputational risk, and it will be legislative light.”