The fate of federal insurance regulatory proposals could depend partly on how House Democrats decide to structure their committees.
Congress watchers usually assume that the most senior minority party member on a committee is the most likely candidate to chair the committee if party control over a chamber changes.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., is the heir presumptive to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the current chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., probably will succeed Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the insurance and securities industries as well as the banking industry.
But the insurance and securities industries were under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee up until 2001. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., probably will return as the head of that committee.
Proposals for insurance regulatory changes tend to be bipartisan in nature, and the results of Tuesday’s elections may not affect them much as long as Frank and Baucus retain jurisdiction, according to Michael Kerley, senior vice president of federal relations at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.
“The overall support in the key committees, both House and Senate, remains about the same,” Kerley says. “As a result, I suspect that the issue will simply continue to percolate, and it will be a while before we will able to discern where it will go.”
But, if Dingell succeeds at getting jurisdiction over insurance regulation, “then that changes everything,” Kerley says. “[Dingell] has strongly supported a federal regulatory system for insurance in the past.”
Here are Kerley’s thoughts about other key issues: