Thursday, November 09, 2006

A more active Capitol Hill

Sweeping gains by Democrats in the congressional midterm elections guarantee that Wall Street and corporate America will deal with a more hostile Capitol Hill next year.
Those in the M&A world got a taste of what Tuesday, Nov. 7's elections mean for them in the comments of Rep. John Dingell, the Michigan Democrat in line to chair the Commerce Committee, following his party's dramatic takeover of the House of Representatives. Dingell, whose panel will oversee competition in nearly every sector of the economy, made media consolidation one of his first shots.
Similar antagonism is expected from John Conyers, also of Michigan, who is slated to take over the House Judiciary Committee, the chamber's primary overseer of antitrust policy.
Although which party will control the Senate remained unclear Wednesday, a change in leadership of the Antitrust Subcommittee is nevertheless guaranteed. Sen. Mike DeWine, who chaired the panel, was defeated in his bid for a third term. Uncertainty over a Virginia Senate seat Wednesday offered Republicans a long-shot chance of retaining the Senate, but DeWine's most likely successor will be Democrat Herb Kohl of Wisconsin.
Regarding the financial services industry, the shift in power means that Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank is expected to succeed Ohio Republican Michael Oxley as head of the House Financial Services Committee.
The House panel oversees the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve, and it helps in setting policy for the banking, securities and mortgage industries. Frank, a social liberal, is expected to take a much more activist approach than his predecessor, but one not always unsympathetic to business.

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