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McHenry downplayed concerns about criminal use of crypto, saying cash is still a bigger problem when it comes to illicit finance.

Members brace for ‘absolute melee’ over McHenry’s successor

The Republican chair of the House Financial Services Committee isn’t running for reelection in 2024, and who his successor will be is anyone’s guess.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) announced his retirement Tuesday, ending months of speculation about the longtime lawmaker’s future plans.

This is a big, big deal for the financial services world. The House Financial Services Committee is among Washington’s most powerful panels, overseeing both the banking industry and top agency regulators while also wielding enormous influence over financial policy writ large.

Let’s start with the warm and fuzzy stuff: Lawmakers in both parties lamented the coming departure of McHenry, who has served in the House since 2005 and cemented a reputation as an even-handed dealmaker.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), another veteran lawmaker on the House Financial Services Committee, said he was “devastated” and “shocked” by the news.

“I think he’s one of the real voices of sanity around here,” Himes said. “This institution is going to be a lot weaker for his absence.”

A few Republicans we spoke to said they were surprised as well, including Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.). Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said it was “a loss to Congress, but I’m happy for whatever is next for Patrick.”

OK, enough of that. Let’s talk gavel politics.

There’s an unusually deep Republican bench on the financial services panel, with a half dozen lawmakers who could make a credible run for the GOP spot. That list extends beyond the roster of subcommittee chairs.

“You’re going to have an absolute melee on the financial services committee,” Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) told us Tuesday. The longest serving member on the committee today, Lucas didn’t rule out a run himself when asked, we should note. Lucas currently chairs the House Science Committee.

But as we wrote Tuesday, there are two lawmakers effectively at the top of the pile for now: Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), the committee’s current vice chair, and Luetkemeyer, a former banker who’s already expressed an interest in the job.

“We’ll see how it plays out,” Luetkemeyer told us in a brief conversation Tuesday. Hill declined to comment on the chairmanship, saying he was “not going to discuss that today.” Barr, another potential contender, likewise punted, saying he was “not going to get into that speculation.”

We’ll have more tomorrow on what happens to the panel if Democrats win the House.

— Brendan Pedersen

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