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White House calls for “Renters Bill of Rights”
The White House announced an array of executive branch actions designed to empower and protect renters, in conjunction with the publication of its Blueprint for a Renter Bill of Rights, a white paper compiled by the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council. While the white paper does not have the force of law, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) simultaneously announced their own initiatives to identify and prevent abuses in the rental housing sector.

The FTC and the CFPB will collect information to identify unfair practices that prevent tenants from accessing or staying in rental housing, including information about the creation and use of tenant background checks, the use of algorithms in evaluating rental applicants, how landlords and property managers notify tenants and applicants of adverse actions, and how applicants’ sources of income influence housing decisions. The CFPB will coordinate with the FTC on enforcement actions to ensure accuracy in credit reporting and background check reports.

FHFA will launch a new process for public input on proposed actions to promote renter protections and limits on “egregious rent increases” for future investments. Last December the agency finalized a rule setting multifamily housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which takes effect next month. The Department of Justice will hold a workshop to inform potential guidance about anti-competitive information sharing, including in rental markets. And HUD will propose a rule to require public housing authorities and owners of project-based rental assistance properties to give tenants at least 30 days’ notice before terminating a lease for nonpayment of rent.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, hailed the blueprint.

Senate Democrats officially name committee chairs

Senate Democrats finalized their choices of committee chairs and members, subject to ratification by the full Senate:

Agriculture, Nutrition & ForestrySenator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
AppropriationsSenator Patty Murray (D-WA)
Armed ServicesSenator Jack Reed (D-RI)
Banking, Housing & Urban AffairsSenator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
BudgetSenator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Commerce, Science & TransportationSenator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Energy & Natural ResourcesSenator Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Environment & Public WorksSenator Tom Carper (D-DE)
FinanceSenator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Foreign RelationsSenator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Health, Education, Labor & PensionsSenator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Homeland Security & Government AffairsSenator Gary Peters (D-MI)
IntelligenceSenator Mark Warner (D-VA)
JudiciarySenator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Rules & AdministrationSenator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Small Business & EntrepreneurshipSenator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Veterans’ AffairsSenator Jon Tester (D-MT)

McHenry announces House Financial Services subcommittee members and staff as Democrats add two freshmen
The House Financial Services Committee continued to take shape last week. Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) announced Republican subcommittee membership; of note, the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, chaired by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), and the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions, chaired by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), are equal in size, with twelve members apiece. McHenry also named the Committee’s Republican staff, headed by Matthew Hoffmann as Staff Director. Kimberly Betz is the Committee’s Chief Counsel and Policy Director. Meanwhile, Committee Democrats welcomed newly elected Reps. Wiley Nickel (D-NC) and Brittany Pettersen (D-CO) to the panel.

Larsen welcomes new Democrats to House T&I Committee, pledges bipartisan effort
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, announced the panel’s Democratic members, including five first-term Representatives:

Rep. Rob Menendez (D-NJ)
Rep. Val Hoyle (D-OR)
Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-OH)
Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI)
Rep. Valerie Foushee (D-NC)

Larsen said he looked forward to bipartisan effort on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the Coast Guard Authorization Act, and legislative reforms to the nation’s aviation system.

House Judiciary names subcommittee chairs
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) named chairs of the panel’s six subcommittees:

Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and AntitrustRep. Thomas Massie(R-KY)
Constitution and Limited GovernmentRep. Mike Johnson (R-LA)
Courts, Intellectual Property, and the InternetRep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Crime and Federal Government SurveillanceRep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
Immigration Integrity, Security, and EnforcementRep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Responsiveness and Accountability to OversightRep. Ben Cline (R-VA)

SEC proposes conflict-of-interest rule for securitizations
Last Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a rule to implement the Dodd-Frank Act’s prohibition on material conflicts of interest in the sales of asset-backed securities. The proposed new Securities Act Rule 192 would prohibit any underwriter, placement agent, initial purchaser, or sponsor of an asset-backed security from engaging directly or indirectly in any transaction that would involve or create a material conflict of interest between the securitization participant and investors. The rule would include some exceptions for risk-hedging activities. The proposal is open for comment for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

DOT announces availability of $1.7 billion in state and local funding to convert bus fleets
State and local transit agencies seeking to convert their bus fleets to no- or low-emission vehicles can now apply to the Department of Transportation for their share of almost $1.7 billion to fund that conversion. Projects that advance the environmental justice goals laid out by the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative will get priority. This is the second round of funding under the bipartisan infrastructure law; last year’s round will pay for approximately 1,800 new buses, of which more than 1,100 will be zero-emission.

The Confirmations, Nominations, Departures

Ron Klain is stepping down as White House Chief of Staff next week, to be succeeded by Jeff Zients, who was director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration and served as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator from January 2021 to April 2022.

President Biden has nominated Ron Borzekowski to head the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research. Borzekowski was a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Board before moving over to help create, then lead the Office of Research at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). He is currently Executive Director of Yale’s Data-Intensive Social Science Center.

The Week Ahead

The Congressional committees start to organize this week in earnest, and a couple hold their first hearings. It’s also Identity Theft Awareness Week, so a good time to check your password security.

February 1 at 9:30 a.m. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure holds an organizing meeting, followed by a hearing on “The State of Transportation Infrastructure and Supply Chain Challenges.”

February 1 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Agriculture holds its first hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill, focusing on trade and horticulture.

February 1 at 10:00 a.m. House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on “The Biden Border Crisis, Part I.”

February 1 at 10:00 a.m. House Oversight Committee holds a hearing on “Federal Pandemic Spending: A Prescription for Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.”

February 2 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources holds a hearing on the Department of Energy’s implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


The Ellis Insight
Jim Ellis on Political News


Arizona As expected, five-term Arizona US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) announced his 2024 US Senate campaign, saying he is not opposing incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) because “she abandoned the Democratic Party — it’s that she abandoned Arizona.”

Rep. Gallego, who was expected to be a Democratic Senate candidate long before Sen. Sinema switched her partisan allegiance in December, at this point sees no major intra-party opposition. US Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix), who would also have been a top Democratic contender, said he would not enter the statewide contest.

The Arizona nomination system is long, and we are still more than a year away from the April 2024 candidate filing deadline, so much will happen in this Senate contest before the political dust settles. Should Sen. Sinema seek re-election, a legitimate three-way race among she, presumably Rep. Gallego on the Democratic line, and a Republican nominee would yield a political battle in which any one of those three contenders, under the right circumstances, could win the general election.

California As the California US Senate race continues to ripen even though incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) says she will not decide about her own political plans “for a couple of months,” another Democratic candidate just announced for the statewide position.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a day after being stripped of his House Intelligence Committee position, officially entered the 2024 US Senate contest that will first begin with a March jungle primary election.

Fellow southern California Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) was the first to officially enter, doing so in the early part of this month. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is reportedly telling supporters that she, too, will enter the Senate race. Her fellow San Francisco Bay Area colleague, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), says he will assess the political situation after Rep. Lee makes a decision.

Rep. Schiff says he talks to Sen. Feinstein frequently and “has her blessing” to run, though he did confirm that such a statement does not mean she is endorsing him. It is presumed that two Democrats will advance to the general election, but such did not happen in the 2022 Governor’s race. Therefore, the March 5, 2024 Super Tuesday California primary will have much more intrigue than just what happens in the presidential contest.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R), who says he is “100% not running for President, and 100% seeking re-election to the US Senate,” may receive a significant Republican primary challenge according to several news sources. Surfacing as a potential Scott challenger is multi-millionaire Melbourne businessman and attorney Keith Gross (R), who started a conservative non-profit organization entitled “Advance Florida.” The activist entity’s goal is to “promote the Constitutional way of running and operating government.”

Sen. Scott, a major multi-millionaire himself, is certainly favored for renomination and re-election though he has raised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ire. Sen. Scott unsuccessfully challenged Mr. McConnell during the post-election organizational sessions. The Leader has made no secret that he would like to see an alternative to Scott, so outside resources coming to Florida to help a potential candidate like Mr. Gross would not appear out of the question.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D), answering reporters’ questions about whether he will run for a fourth term from Big Sky Country earlier this week, said he would make a decision by the end of the first quarter. Sen. Tester will face a difficult re-election in a state that has turned decidedly more Republican since he was re-elected in 2018. In that year, his victory margin was only 50-47% over Matt Rosendale (R) who was subsequently elected to the House in 2020.

Pennsylvania Just after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Keystone State Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) indicated that he would be running for re-election once he recovers from his impending surgery. Clarifying his status, the Senator said running will be dependent upon his health once he completes his cancer treatment, but his goal is to run again. Mr. Casey said he is not yet ready to commit to launching another campaign.

Virginia Though some speculation was beginning to percolate that Democratic Senator and 2016 Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine would retire, he instead officially announced that he will seek a third term. At this point, he becomes a prohibitive favorite to win the 2024 general election in a state that is moving into the reliable Democratic category even after the Republican success in the 2021 odd-year elections.

The budding Republican candidate field is not impressive so far, but retired Navy Captain Hung Cao, who scored 47% against Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) in a 10th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+8 and Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 55.2D-42.99R, is apparently considering a Senate challenge.

Mr. Cao would provide Republicans with a credible and interesting candidate, but with the state continuing to move toward the Democrats, which is accentuated in a presidential year, Sen. Kaine is in a strong political position as he begins his quest for a third term.


CA-45 Golden State Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County), fresh from a 52-48% victory in a new 45th District that contained only 16% carryover from the 48th District to which she was originally elected in 2020, has drawn a potentially new opponent for 2024.

Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Bernice Nguyen (D), a twice defeated County Supervisor contender, announced her congressional candidacy in a district that is 41.4% plurality Asian and over 72% minority. Community College Trustee Jay Chen (D), who held Rep. Steel to her four-point win in a district that contains a five-point Democratic lean according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, is also a potential candidate, but has not yet formally decided whether he will seek a re-match.

CA-47 Last week, we saw an announcement from locally well-known community activist and fitness business owner Dom Jones (D) that she would be the fifth entry into what will be an open Orange County 2024 congressional race after California Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-Irvine) very early Senate announcement initiated a plethora of early political action.

Yet another person stepped forward to declare her candidacy. Hollywood television writer and producer Lori Kirkland Baker (D) joined the 47th District political fray and will compete against former US Rep. Harley Rouda (D), state Sen. David Min (D-Irvine), ex-state Assemblyman and 2022 congressional candidate Scott Baugh (R), IT consultant Brian Burley, and Ms. Jones. All will share the ballot in a March 2024 jungle primary that will yield two of the contenders advancing into the general election.

Ms. Baker is a significant figure in television, working on such shows as Frasier, Wings, and Desperate Housewives, among others. We can expect a very competitive open primary and general election campaign to shortly ensue.


Kentucky Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy just released a survey of the impending Kentucky Governor’s race (1/18-23; 625 KY registered voters; 404 KY likely Republican primary voters; live interview) and the data finds Gov. Andy Beshear (D) with high approval ratings and recording sizable leads against all potential Republican opponents. M-D projects the Governor’s job approval ratio 61:29% favorable to unfavorable, certainly in the top tier when compared with other state chief executives.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron has developed a big lead in the Republican primary according to the poll, topping former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, and state Auditor Mike Harmon by a 39-13-8-5% count.

Gov. Beshear enjoys lead of at least 19 percentage points over the latter three Republicans, but a much closer 49-40% divide against AG Cameron. It is likely this race will close before election day, but the incumbent Governor is clearly beginning his re-election drive in the favorite’s position.

Mississippi What could have become a major 2023 Republican primary challenge for Gov. Tate Reeves later this year probably won’t materialize. Late this week, Secretary of State Michael Watson (R), who was publicly contemplating a gubernatorial run, said that he will not challenge the incumbent. With the candidate filing deadline approaching on February 1st, it is unlikely now that a major GOP player will come forward.

Dr. John Witcher, who is an anti-Covid vaccination physician, formally declared his candidacy but is not expected to become a strong challenger. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr. (R), who ran against Mr. Reeves four years ago, is still a potential candidate.


Chicago For the first time in this election cycle, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who had been trailing in every released poll since early December, has moved into the lead according to a recently released GBAO survey as the nine candidates move toward a February 28th non-partisan primary election. If no contender receives majority support in that election, the top two finishers will advance to an April 4th runoff.

The GBAO poll conducted for the Lightfoot campaign (1/18-22; 800 likely Chicago municipal election voters; live interview & text) projects the Mayor to a 25-22-18-11-9% leading edge over former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), businessman Willie Wilson, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, respectively. No other individual breaks the 2% support mark.

This is the first poll that fails to project Rep. Garcia as the leader, but he is just now beginning his advertising campaign. It appears a virtual certainty that no candidate will reach majority support in the first election, thus triggering the runoff. Should Rep. Garcia ultimately win the election, a special vote would then be scheduled to replace him in the US House.

Political Parties

Gallup The Gallup research organization, as part of their Gallup Poll Social Services series (throughout 2022; 12 surveys; 10,000 live interviews; US Adults) recently concluded that 45% of their respondent universe identified as Republican or Republican leaning as opposed to 44% who align themselves with the Democrats. In the initial questions, the Independent classification led with 41% preference, with the two major parties tied at 28% apiece. The Independents were then questioned as to which party they more closely identified.

Though this is the first time in more than three decades that cumulative Republicans topped cumulative Democrats, the two entities were tied during both the 2003 and 2011 Gallup partisan identification report. The Democrats’ biggest advantage came immediately after President Barack Obama’s initial election when their cumulative total rose to 52%, while the Republicans sunk to 40%.