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Speaker pro tempore of the House Patrick McHenry & French Hill

The House Financial Services Committee is back in business

The House Financial Services Committee will host its first hearings since September starting today — even with Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) a bit wrapped up with other stuff these days.

We’ll see a flurry of hearings in the next few days courtesy of the panel’s subcommittees on oversight, national security, financial technology and insurance. Topics will include new sanctions targeting Iran and Hamas and regulatory regimes for novel products and fintech partnerships.

House Republican lawmakers told us the activity shows that the Financial Services Committee is chugging along even as McHenry goes into Day 21 as speaker pro tem.

“Business as usual,” Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) said.

But the big question hanging over HFSC these days is what will happen inside the panel if McHenry finds himself formally elected as speaker pro tem, even for just a few months.

Sources in McHenry’s orbit say the North Carolina Republican doesn’t want to abandon the chairmanship. But there’s little doubt being elected to speaker pro tem would take up a profound amount of McHenry’s time.

“We have a strong group of subcommittee chairs,” Hill said. “We have a strong, clear agenda and plan. All these decisions about the committee and its leadership are really in Patrick’s hands.”

Hill is the committee’s vice chair, and this wouldn’t be the first time the Arkansas Republican has stepped up to run the committee’s affairs. Sources close to the committee say Hill helped the panel stay on track while McHenry was consumed by excruciating negotiations over the debt limit back in May.

Most GOP lawmakers on the committee really don’t want to touch the leadership question. “It’s a hypothetical right now,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) told us the point was “moot.” Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) said: “Everybody’s getting way over their skis on this.”

If McHenry does step back, we don’t expect much disruption. Hill is about as closely aligned with McHenry as two lawmakers can be on financial policy.

Even some Democrats on the committee sounded upbeat when we asked about the potential shift.

“The way the committee works has been bipartisan enough that there will be sufficient trust to go through and keep the committee functioning,” Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) said.

The more pressing problem will be finding a speaker.

“We just have to get this thing settled, because we don’t even know what kind of legislation might be brought up on the floor,” Foster said.

Meanwhile at the Federal Reserve: Agency officials will unveil the final version of a proposal to reform the Community Reinvestment Act this morning. Then, on Thursday, the Fed will unveil a proposal changing how banks charge fees on debit card transactions. Both are big deals that we’ll be following as the week progresses.

— Brendan Pedersen

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.