Waters is angling to take over for Democrats on the committee monitoring Wall Street in 2013, which will lead the effort to defend the Dodd-Frank financial reform law from GOP attempts to roll it back. So far, no direct challenger from her party has emerged.
The most apparent obstacle to her becoming the top Democrat is a pending ethics investigation against her. The House Ethics Committee has hired outside counsel to examine its initial handling of allegations against her and whether she violated House ethics rules. The committee opted to extend the contract for that counsel in December, and has given no indication of when it might conclude.
The committee is examining whether Waters improperly directed federal funding to a bank in which her husband owned stock and previously served as a board member. Waters has strongly defended her innocence, and the committee suspended the investigation last year to bring on outside counsel.
The Financial Services Committee is set for a major shake-up at the top in 2013, with the top members of both parties heading elsewhere. In addition to Frank's retirement, Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) has said he does not plan to seek a waiver to avoid term limits and stay on as top Republican on the committee beyond 2012.