* Powerful platform for consumer advocate
* New Massachusetts senator is a leading U.S. liberal
* Murray to head budget panel, Wyden leads energy panel
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, Dec 12 Wall Street critic and
Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren will join the Senate Banking
Committee next year where she is likely to be a loud voice in
favor of tight financial regulation.
The Democratic Steering Committee on Wednesday approved
committee assignments for Warren and other Senate Democrats,
installing Senator Patty Murray of Washington state as
chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee.
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who won a hard-fought
election in Massachusetts, will now have a powerful platform
from which to oversee banking regulation.
The pick is a controversial one for the financial services
sector, where many bankers have criticized her as an overzealous
regulator bent on punishing Wall Street and who does not fully
understand the financial system.
She has called for the breakup of largest banks and is
expected to fight fiercely against Republican efforts to dilute
reforms contained in the post-financial crisis Dodd-Frank Wall
Warren would also be able to forcefully push for financial
regulators to use all the powers available to them to write
strict interpretations of rules.
That could mean stronger curbs on Wall Street trading,
higher capital buffers and rules that would compel mega-banks to
Warren is the architect of the new Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, an agency created by Dodd-Frank in 2010.
Although she helped set up the new government watchdog,
President Barack Obama refrained from nominating her as its
first director, because of fierce opposition in the Senate.
"These committee assignments will allow all members of our
caucus to bring their unique talents and expertise to bear as we
work together to advance the interests of the middle class,"
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.
Warren was a leading speaker at the Democratic National
Convention in September and gave a rousing speech attacking
Republican Mitt Romney as an out of touch elitist
She also won a seat on Wednesday on the Health, Education,
Labor and Pensions committee.
Two other newly elected Democratic senators, Heidi Heitkamp
of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, will join the
Senate Agriculture Committee. Heitkamp also was assigned to the
Banking Committee, while Donnelly also will join the Senate
Armed Services Committee.
Murray replaces the retiring Kent Conrad as head of the
Budget Committee, while Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon will become
chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
replacing the retiring Jeff Bingaman.
The assignments are still subject to approval by the
Democratic caucus and the Democratic-majority full Senate, but
these approvals are viewed as largely pro forma following the
steering committee vote.