Transition Tracker | Summary of Cabinet Appointees
Below is a summary of cabinet appointees who will have an influence on financial services, what they might do in the financial services industry, and how their confirmation process might go. As a reminder, once the president-elect nominates a cabinet member, the nomination moves to the Senate. In the Senate, the committee with jurisdiction over the department conducts hearings. For example, the Senate Finance Committee will hold hearings on the appointment of the Treasury Secretary. The committee, and then the full Senate will vote on the nominee. Because of procedural changes ushered in by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, only a majority vote is needed to confirm nominees.
Secretary of Treasury – Steve Mnuchin: The founder of the West Bank Group and Goldman Sachs alum says he plans to focus on tax overhaul efforts. He’s also looking to strip back parts of Dodd-Frank that prevent lending. As for his confirmation – prominent Senate liberals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been critical of the pick. Senate Banking Committee Democrats Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley also voiced concern. Mnuchin’s Goldman Sachs roots and dealings during the financial crisis may prompt sharp questioning during his Senate hearings. The Senate Finance Committee’s vetting process will be very detailed — especially on tax issues. However, he appears likely to be confirmed.
Secretary of Defense – James Mattis: The retired Marine Corps general has argued for an assertive role for the U.S. armed forces. His department will be in charge of the Military Lending Act regulations. The DoD has broad authority to make changes to the regulations, but it is unlikely to be at, or even near, the top of Mattis’ agenda. Any changes will likely be down the road. As for his confirmation – he as previously been confirmed by the Senate. However, there will be an extra step this time, as Congress needs to pass legislation waiving a law that bars appointing anyone as secretary of defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer. While the exception was last granted in 1950 for Gen. George C. Marshall, Mattis is likely to attract active support for the waiver from lawmakers on the congressional defense panels.
Department of Justice / Attorney General – Jeff Sessions: Sessions is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee overseeing immigration, and could continue to focus on the issue in leading the Justice Department. It’s likely that he’d be involved in vetting potential Supreme Court nominees. Consumer lending is not his area of expertise, but the Justice Department has been involved with the CFPB’s disparate impact enforcement actions. Session’s department would probably have a much different relationship with the CFPB on this issue. As for his confirmation, he has already met with Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley. Dianne Feinstein, who will become the panel’s top Democrat in January, says she takes issue with holding hearings on Session’s nomination before President-elect Trump is inaugurated. Grassley plans to proceed with hearings on Jan. 10 and 11.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – Ben Carson: A retired pediatric neurosurgeon, Carson could play an important role in addressing problems plaguing inner-city minority communities. In a recent speech at Yale, Carson said, “But what I do want to do is create ladders of opportunity, so that people don't have to be dependent,” adding, “Government should not keep people in a dependent state. It should be used as a springboard, and not as a hammock.” Under Carson, HUD may change or repeal a 2013 disparate impact rule. As for his confirmation, he will likely face questions about his background and suitability to lead a department that he might not have an obvious connection to.
STILL TO COME
Supreme Court nominee: The Trump policy team is narrowing Supreme Court picks to five or six people. The new Supreme Court justice could be a deciding vote in the PHH case challenging the CFPB, should it move that far.
New FCC Chair and Commissioners: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that he would resign, effective Jan. 20. His departure means that the new administration will start with a 2-1 majority at the FCC. Trump will appoint a new Chairman, but we do not have a name yet. A new Democrat will also have to be appointed. The change in balance means that the FCC can begin to dismantle Obama-era regulations, hopefully including modernizing the Telephone Consumer Protection regulations.
CFPB director? Of course, the question of the hour is whether there will be a new CFPB director and who that new director could be. All the information is still speculative at this point.
December 16th, 2016 by Dan Bucherer