WASHINGTON — Major changes are in store for the House Financial Services Committee later this year, bringing some uncertainty for municipal securities and other markets.
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced Friday that two committee staff members will transition to new roles, just as media reports surfaced that he will leave his post next year, due to term limits imposed by the House Republican leadership.
Word of the changes comes after Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the namesake of the 2010 financial reform bill, announced in November he would not run for reelection at the end of his current term.
A Bachus spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Bachus’ congressional district includes Jefferson County, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year on more than $3 billion in interest-rate swaps. Some market participants said his muni background could prove hard to replicate, especially with Frank’s departure already prompting speculation about who will head the committee after this year’s elections.
“So that leaves some degree of uncertainty, because you don’t quite know who will be chosen as chair and ranking member and whether Democrats or Republicans will be in charge,” said William Daly, senior vice president of government relations for Bond Dealers of America. “It sort of depends on who gets those slots.”
An industry group cited Bachus for his effectiveness, but said other senior members of the committee could take a broad view of the areas under its jurisdiction.
“He’s very thoughtful on the issues we care about,” said Michael Decker, managing director and co-head of the muni division at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.
Under House Republican Conference rules, no lawmaker can serve more than three consecutive terms as chairman or ranking member of a congressional committee.
Bachus became chairman of the financial services committee in 2011, after the GOP gained control of the House. Previously, when the Democrats controlled the chamber, he was the top Republican on the committee, according to his website.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one observer said other prominent Republicans have unsuccessfully sought waivers of the six-year requirement, so it would not be surprising if Bachus relinquished his chairmanship in January 2013, when a new Congress convenes.
Separately, Bachus announced Friday that Larry Lavender, the committee’s chief of staff, will leave his position to manage Bachus’s primary re-election campaign. Lavender will later join the Washington, D.C., office of Jones Walker, a law firm concentrated in the Gulf states of Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Texas.
Jones, Walker has a strategic alliance with the Livingston Group, headed by former Rep. Robert Livingston, R-La., who chaired the House Appropriations Committee, according to the firm’s website.
Jones Walker’s lobbying clients include SIFMA, which paid the firm $60,000 in the first three quarters of 2011 for lobbying in the House and Senate about financial reform legislation and tax and fee issues affecting financial services companies, according to the firm’s disclosure reports.
Jim Clinger, the committee’s chief counsel, will take over as chief of staff, the release said.
Clinger has served as the committee’s chief Republican counsel since 2007.
“Larry and Jim have done exceptional work on the committee and I’m very pleased that both of them are moving forward in their careers,” Bachus said in the statement.