Waters secures top Democratic spot on House Financial Services Committee

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has been officially named the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.

The outspoken liberal vowed Tuesday to protect the Dodd-Frank financial reform law from GOP attempts to dismantle it, while pursuing reform of housing finance with the new chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

While Waters and Hensarling rarely see eye to eye on policy, she said in a statement she hoped to "reconcile our visions" at the top of the banking panel. But she gave little indication she was willing to consider changes to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which Hensarling has harshly critiqued.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect, defend and implement the important provisions of Dodd-Frank, which will continue to strengthen our financial system," she said. "I understand that regulatory certainty is an important aspect of growing our economy, and remain committed to ensuring clear and transparent regulation which creates the space for innovation, safety and soundness."

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A longtime housing advocate, Waters also made clear that housing reform would be at the top of her agenda in the 113th Congress.

"Housing finance reform, in particular, will be crucial to ensuring the long-term success and stability of our economy. I believe we need a financial system that facilitates economic opportunity and wealth creation for all, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues towards that goal," she said.

Waters was unanimously selected to be the ranking member of the committee Tuesday by the House Democratic Caucus.

She has long been a vocal presence on the banking panel, and worked quickly to align support following Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) announcement that he would not seek reelection in 2012. She secured the support of the three major Democratic minority caucuses, as well as that of the panel's other subcommittee chairs.

The only major obstacle standing in her way was long-standing ethics investigation into whether she used her position to help secure financial support during the financial crisis for a bank in which her husband had substantial investments. The House Ethics Committee cleared her of all charges in September.

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