Careful, fire will burn you
The four members of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which currently lacks a confirmed chair, issued a statement last week reminding investors that “extreme stock price volatility has the potential to expose investors to rapid and severe losses and undermine market confidence.” The statement was a response to last week’s Reddit-fueled runs on certain stocks; the SEC did not say that any laws had been broken, but pledged to work closely with FINRA and other self-regulatory organizations “to ensure that regulated entities uphold their obligations,” and that they would “act to protect retail investors when the facts demonstrate abusive or manipulative trading activity.” Both House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) and incoming Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have said they will conduct hearings on this week’s market events.
Fudge calls for expanded housing assistance, 1.5 million new homes
At her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee last week, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) emphasized the need to alleviate the current housing crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and said the aid provided by last December’s relief package would not be enough. She noted that “tens of millions of Americans are behind on rent; almost three million homeowners are currently in forbearance; and another 800,000 borrowers are delinquent.” After the pandemic ends, however, her goal will be to expand resources for HUD services to people who are eligible; according to a 2017 study, only one in five households eligible for housing assistance receive it. Fudge said she would follow through on the Biden administration’s commitment to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of affordable housing, and to build 1.5 million new affordable homes. The Banking Committee is likely to vote on Fudge’s nomination this week.
Biden orders review of HUD rulemaking
President Biden signed an Executive Order last Tuesday that affirms the administration’s commitment to ending housing discrimination and lifting barriers that restrict housing and neighborhood choice. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, once in office, to review HUD’s August 2020 rule on “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice,” which repealed the July 2015 rule on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH),” and HUD’s September 2020 rule on “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing’s Disparate Impact Standard.”
Yellen sets objectives for Treasury
The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen’s nomination as Secretary of the Treasury last Monday by a vote of 84-15, and Vice President Kamala Harris swore in the new Secretary last Tuesday. Yellen began her tenure with a “Day One message” to Treasury staff that thanked and congratulated them for their work during the pandemic, adding, “But now we must complete the task.” While the pandemic continues, Yellen wrote, Treasury must continue its usual business of overseeing financial markets, managing the nation’s finances, strengthening the global economy, and fighting illicit finance in partnership with America’s allies. Beyond that, she continued, “there is another set of long-term objectives,” as Treasury can play a major role in finding solutions to the other crises President Biden has identified: “a climate crisis, a crisis of systemic racism, and an economic crisis that has been building for fifty years.” Yellen acknowledged the ambition of these goals, and said that she plans to meet with each office and bureau within Treasury to hear about what needs changing and what Treasury can be doing better.
Waters announces Democratic Financial Services Subcommittee assignments
House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) announced subcommittee assignments for the 117th Congress. Last Congress’s Task Forces on Financial Technology and Artificial Intelligence seem to have been discontinued. Subcommittee chairs are:
- Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)
- Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions: Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
- Housing, Community Development and Insurance: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
- National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy: Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
- Diversity and Inclusion: Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
- Oversight & Investigations: Rep. Al Green (D-TX)
Committee Republicans have not yet announced subcommittee assignments.
House Appropriations Subcommittee chairs named
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced the chairs of the panel’s 12 subcommittees last week, often referred to as the “Cardinals.” They are:
- Agriculture-FDA: Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
- Commerce-Justice-Science: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
- Defense: Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)
- Energy and Water: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
- Financial Services: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)
- Homeland Security: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
- Interior-Environment: Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
- Labor-HHS-Education: Rep. Rosa DeLauro
- Legislative Branch: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
- Military Construction-VA: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
- State and Foreign Operations: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
- Transportation-HUD: Rep. David Price (D-NC)
Cardin, Portman propose tax credit for neighborhood revitalization
Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA) last week to create a federal tax credit to cover the difference between the cost of rehabilitating homes in certain urban and rural areas and the sale price of these refurbished homes. Senator Cardin said that the tax credit would drive investments and revitalize neighborhoods while keeping homes affordable; Senator Portman said it would be especially helpful in neighborhoods suffering from stagnant housing markets, foreclosures, and blighted or vacant homes. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Todd Young (R-IN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tim Scott (R-SC) are co-sponsors of the bill. The Senators said the bill could lead to the revitalization of 500,000 homes and create $100 billion in development revenue over the next ten years.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
- Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced that he will not seek a third term in 2022.
- The Senate confirmed the nomination of Antony Blinken to be Secretary of State.
- Jeffrey Van Hove is serving as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy until President Biden makes a formal appointment.
The Week Ahead in Washington
February 2 at 11:00 a.m. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations holds a hearing on “No Time to Lose: Solutions to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations in the States.”
February 2 at 1:30 a.m. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry holds a hearing on the nomination of Thomas J. Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture.
February 3 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions holds a hearing on the nomination of Miguel Cardona to be Secretary of Education.
February 3 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing to examine data and analysis on global climate trends, focusing on where and how progress has been made.
February 3 at 11:00 a.m. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health holds a hearing on “Road to Recovery: Ramping Up COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing, and Medical Supply Chain.”
February 3 at 2:00 p.m. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works holds a hearing on the nomination of Michael Regan to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
February 4 at 10:00 a.m. House Committee on Small Business holds a hearing on the “State of the Small Business Economy in the Era of COVID-19.”
February 4 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions holds a hearing on the nomination of Martin J. Walsh to be Secretary of Labor.
February 4 at 11:00 a.m. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a hearing on “Protecting Transportation Workers and Passengers from COVID: Gaps in Safety, Lessons Learned and Next Steps.”
February 4 at 12:00 noon House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce holds a hearing on “Safeguarding American Consumers: Fighting Fraud and Scams During the Pandemic.”
The Ellis Insight
Jim Ellis reports on political news
Arizona: Now that term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has removed himself as a potential US Senate challenger to special election winner Mark Kelly (D), the political jockeying among Republicans is beginning. Attorney General Mark Brnovich, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, US Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert), and former Congressman Matt Salmon are potential Senate or gubernatorial candidates. In order for the Republicans to make a strong run at the majority in 2022, they must put the Arizona Senate seat in play.
Colorado: Calling Sen. Michael Bennet (D) “so wishy-washy and so middle-of-the-road that we don’t know which road he walks on,” former state Rep. Joe Salazar (D) announced that he will launch a Democratic primary challenge to the two-term incumbent and former presidential candidate. Mr. Salazar was a spokesman for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and will obviously campaign to Sen. Bennet’s ideological left. The incumbent, however, is the clear early favorite to win both the Democratic primary and the 2022 general election.
Florida: Former US Rep. Alan Grayson (D) who represented two different central Florida congressional seats over a period of eight years and unsuccessfully ran for the US Senate, may again be returning to the political scene. Reports suggest he is laying the groundwork for a run against Sen. Marco Rubio (R).
Indiana: Soon after his Democratic presidential campaign ended, many believed former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) would be preparing a 2022 campaign to challenge Sen. Todd Young (R). Mr. Buttigieg becoming US Transportation Secretary effectively ended such a budding challenge, however, so speculation then began circulating around Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett (D) as a potential Senate candidate. That now has also been quelled. It was reported that Mayor Hogsett said he will not enter the race to challenge Sen. Young next year.
Now the speculation is turning toward former Sen. Joe Donnelly, who was defeated for re-election in 2018. At this point, Mr. Donnelly is not shutting the door on another Senate challenge.
North Carolina: North Carolina state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), who for a time considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in 2020, announced that he will enter the open seat contest to succeed retiring Republican Senator Richard Burr. Mr. Jackson was first elected to the legislature via a party replacement procedure in 2014. He won a full term later that year and was re-elected in 2016, ‘18 and ‘20. Previously announced on the Democratic side is former state Senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. The only major announced Republican candidate to date is former US Rep. Mark Walker.
Ohio: Two-term Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who was expected to seek a third term in 2022, has decided not to run for re-election. His surprise announcement expressed frustration with the even more partisan direction in which the Congress is heading, and he indicated that accomplishing policy objectives is becoming even more difficult.
Former Congressman Pat Tiberi (R), who left the House to run the Ohio Business Roundtable in 2018 and still has over $5 million remaining in his federal campaign account, confirmed that he will not be a candidate for the newly open Ohio Senate seat next year. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R) made a similar public statement, saying he prefers to run for Governor in 2026.
With speculation running high that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) would enter the US Senate race to succeed retiring incumbent Portman, the Congressman made his intentions clear, too. Mr. Jordan stated that he is not going to run for the Senate or challenge Gov. Mike DeWine in the GOP primary. Rather, he plans to seek re-election and pursue his quest to enter the House leadership.
Wisconsin: While prominent people in other states are already saying they won’t run for the Senate in two years, one person confirming he is at least considering such a campaign is Badger State Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (D). Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has not yet indicated whether he will seek a third term. When first elected in 2010, he said he would only serve two terms, but now publicly does not equivocally rule out running again.
CA-22: Democrat Phil Arballo, who spent over $5.1 million against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) in losing 54-46%, says he will run again in 2022. Mr. Arballo believes the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will make the 22nd District more competitive, thus enhancing his chances of unseating the ten-term incumbent. Rep. Nunes was the strongest fundraiser of any House Republican in both 2020 and 2018. In the most recent campaign, he banked over $26.3 million for his re-election run and ended the race with more than $4 million in his campaign account.
CA-39: Freshman California Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra), who lost to Democrat Gil Cisneros in 2018 and then returned to unseat him last November, has already drawn a new challenger for 2022. Community College trustee, businessman, and Navy Reserve officer Jay Chen (D) announced that he will challenge Rep. Kim next year. Former Congressman Cisneros confirms he is considering launching another campaign but has yet to make any firm decision.
NY-22: Last week, presiding Judge Scott DelConte issued a memorandum informing the plaintiffs and public that he will issue a ruling concerning more than 2,000 contested ballots in the NY-22 campaign that still has not been decided. Sans the contested ballots former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) leads 116th Congress incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 29 votes.
Judge DelConte also ordered the counties to be prepared to canvass their votes today. Regardless of the ruling, we are likely to see further legal challenges from whichever candidate is declared the loser.
OH-16: Non-profit organization director Jonah Schulz (R), who failed to win the Republican nomination in the heavily Democratic 11th District last May, says he will launch a primary challenge against nearby Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River; North Olmsted) next year. Rep. Gonzalez was one of ten House Republicans to support President Trump’s latest impeachment.
The fact that Mr. Schulz is moving from another district may not be much of an issue. Redistricting will recast all of the district boundary lines before the 2022 election meaning the impending political situation could look much different than before.
SC-7: Five-term Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach), who was one of ten Republicans to back the latest impeachment attempt against then-President Trump, looks to be drawing a 2022 primary opponent in his safe northeastern South Carolina district.
State Rep. William Bailey (R-Horry County) says he will form an exploratory committee in preparation for a federal run against Mr. Rice. Others are expected to join the Republican primary fray, which would typically be a boon to a challenged incumbent. South Carolina, however, has a runoff system, thus increasing the chances that the Congressman could face a credible opponent in an eventual one-on-one electoral contest.
WA-4: As with several of his Republican colleagues who voted to impeach President Trump earlier this month, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside/ Yakima) has already drawn a 2022 Republican challenger. State Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) announced his intention last week to run for Congress. Since Washington uses a jungle primary system, there is no partisan nomination election. Therefore, it is possible for members of the same party to advance into the general election, placing Mr. Klippert in a different position than some of the other challengers directly opposing incumbents within their party.
WY-AL: Amid the swirling controversy surrounding Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wilson/Jackson) vote to impeach President Trump, including an array of potential Republican primary opponents already lining up to challenge her in the August 2022 primary election, the McLaughlin & Associates organization released the results of their January 25-27 Wyoming poll of 500 likely general election voters.
According to the survey, only 13% of those surveyed would vote to re-elect her. Among only Republicans, the more serious number, Ms. Cheney’s re-elect score drops to just 10%. Paired with state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie), she would lose a Republican primary, 54-21%. Adding Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) to make a three-way contest, Sen. Bouchard would lead 28-21-17% over Rep. Cheney and Mr. Gray, respectively.
Arkansas: Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whose father, Mike Huckabee, served as Arkansas’ Governor for over ten years, announced her own candidacy for her home state’s top position last week. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, so this will be an open seat campaign. The Republican primary will be the key battle, and it is already shaping up as a highly competitive race. Minimally, Ms. Sanders will face Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, both of whom have confirmed that they will be gubernatorial candidates.
California: Organizers of the recall effort to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from office continue to gain steam. New reports claim the recall committee has gathered more than 1.2 million of the 1,495,709 valid signatures needed to force a recall election. The signature submission deadline is March 17th.
Once signatures are formally tendered, state officials have 14 days to certify that the minimum number of valid signatures – only California registered voters may sign – have been qualified. If so, a recall election must be held between 88 and 125 days of certification. This means, if ultimately successful with the petition process, a statewide recall election would occur at some point during the late summer. The most recent recall occurred in 2003 when then-Gov. Gray Davis (D) was removed from office with Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) elected as his replacement.
Virginia: Pete Snyder, a Republican venture capital businessman and former convention candidate for Lt. Governor, announced that he will enter the ongoing Virginia gubernatorial battle to succeed term-limited Gov. Ralph Northam (D). Already in the GOP race are former state House Speaker Kirk Cox and state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian). For the Democrats, former Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax are the key candidates.
Detroit: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is a clear favorite to win a third term, but his next campaign might not be as easy as his first re-election effort (72% victory percentage). Anthony Adams, the city’s former Deputy Mayor under since jailed and then pardoned Kwame Kilpatrick, announced his own mayoral campaign last week. He indicated that there is a “dramatic need for mayoral change in the city of Detroit.”
New York City: Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang earlier last week released a Slingshot Strategies survey that posted him to a significant lead over his ten Democratic opponents, all vying to succeed retiring Mayor Bill de Blasio. According to the survey, Mr. Yang would top Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, 25-17-12%, with all other candidates registering less than 10% support.
The poll particulars were not released, however, meaning the field survey dates and sample size. One clear flaw is the sample size consisting of 59% women, seven points higher than the Census Bureau female statistic for the city.