POLITICO has twin profiles of the chair and ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby. Dodd's issues are well known to progressives: A tough re-election campaign means he has to demonstrate that he's not in the pocket of big finance, and he made a gutsy decision to remain chair of the Banking Committee to do just that. Shelby, whose promise to work toward bipartisan financial regulation reform helped Dodd decide to stay, is a less well-known figure but one who does bring some credibility to his promise to work toward reform.
Shades of Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley? We can only hope not. One good sign is that Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. PIRG can point to his history of working with Dodd on bills like last spring's Credit Card Reform Act. Another is that Shelby, a very conservative fella, hasn't ruled out the Consumer Financial Protection Agency or any other single part of the administration's regulatory reform proposal. He's also hired five policy aides to work on reform and has financial-sector lobbyists wondering if he's decided to focus on making the biggest financial regulation overhaul since the Depression his legacy.
But of course relying on a senator's principles is always a dodgy proposition, and Shelby has been trying to slow down legislative movement this fall. One good sign for reformers is that Dodd is, in general, more liberal and a stronger legislator than Baucus. Shelby's participation, however, will come down to how much pressure his Republican colleagues put on him not to play ball simply for political purposes -- denying Democrats a political victory may be more important to them than fixing financial regulation.
-- Tim Fernholz