US Senate Banking chairman: Elizabeth Warren would be an asset

WASHINGTON Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:26pm EST

WASHINGTON Nov 13 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren would be a welcome addition to the Senate Banking Committee, its chairman Tim Johnson said on Tuesday in his first public statement about his preferences since Warren was elected.

Warren, a Democrat who beat Massachusetts Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown in last week's election, has been a fierce critic of Wall Street's excesses and an advocate for consumers.

She was the chief watchdog of the $700 billion taxpayer bailout of the U.S. financial system and later helped set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which oversees products such as mortgages and student loans.

"I have a good working relationship with Elizabeth Warren and I would welcome her to the committee if that's what she wishes," said Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, in a statement to Reuters.

"Her expertise and knowledge would be an asset to the committee as we continue working to protect consumers and maintain financial stability."

Congressional observers have said Warren stands a good chance at getting a spot on the banking committee, even though it is considered a plum assignment for a freshman senator.

A spokeswoman for Warren did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Senate Democrats will vote for leadership positions on Wednesday, but negotiations over committee assignments will continue, a Senate staffer said.

Committee assignments are chosen by Senate leadership, though recommendations from committee chairmen, like Johnson, carry some weight.

The progressive political blog Daily Kos has started a petition asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to give Warren a spot on the committee.