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Bachus Appears Closer to Financial Services Gavel Under a GOP Majority

Rep. Spencer Bachus has quietly gone from an unlikely choice for chairman of the powerful Financial Services Committee in a GOP-controlled House to the presumptive favorite for the post, according to Republican aides and lobbyists.

The Alabama Republican, the ranking member on Financial Services, has been making a play to downtown donors for months, saying he is going to be the next chairman, and he appears close to the gavel with less than a week until the midterm elections.

One senior GOP aide said Bachus received Minority Leader John Boehner’s support for the post, which Bachus indicated to Reuters last month. “He said, ‘You’re OK. … I mean, if I had a problem with you, I’d tell you,'” Bachus said, quoting the Ohio Republican, in the interview.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, did not comment on the conversation between Boehner and Bachus.

“All decisions about ranking Members or chairmen for the 112th Congress will be made by the Steering Committee at the appropriate time,” he said in an e-mail.

A spokeswoman for Bachus could not be reached for comment.

Bachus told Roll Call last month that his committee has been “prepared to lead” since the beginning of the 110th Congress. “We have had our legislative proposal for two years,” Bachus said. “Our values, our approach is not going to change.”

Bachus’ ability to control the committee came under deep criticism during debate on funding for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 and again in July 2009 after an embarrassing altercation with Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) during a committee hearing.

But one source familiar with the committee said GOP leaders do not want to “rock the boat” by bypassing Bachus unless it is necessary, and financial services lobbyists say it wouldn’t be surprising for Boehner to support Bachus.

The Alabama Republican has worked hard over the past year to regain GOP leaders’ faith in his stewardship of the committee. He delegated high-profile roles to other committee members, such as Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), in particular giving them the authority to negotiate and coordinate amendments with Democrats and to take the lead during markups.

K Streeters who hope that Boehner would pick Hensarling or another committee member to lead the panel said there is precedent for skipping over ranking members, but they conceded it is unlikely Bachus will be passed over.

“He’s done a lot for Boehner,” one financial services lobbyist said. “From the standpoint of being able to better control someone, Boehner is in a better position to control him than Hensarling.”

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