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Schumer Passes on Top Democratic Banking Spot

Wall Street is losing the opportunity for a Democratic ally to take the party’s top spot on the Banking Committee, but the financial sector seems to be banking on that friend playing an even bigger role in leadership.

In a telling reaction to news Friday that Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., would skip the chance to run his party’s side of the panel, the Wall Street-heavy Partnership for New York City, seemed to be on board with their home-state lawmaker’s decision. That is even though it means anti-big bank Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio will take the ranking member job.

“New York relies on Senator Schumer to be a strong and effective voice for the city and our financial services industry in Washington, D.C.,” said Kathryn Wylde, the partnership’s CEO. “We are confident that his decision to focus on a leadership role with Senate Democrats, rather than the ranking position on Banking, is based on his assessment of where he can best represent us.”

Schumer will remain a senior member of the Banking panel, and his leadership position in the chamber will provide him a potentially bigger imprint on banking — and all other — legislation.

“He has a number of responsibilities as Chairman of the DPCC and a member of leadership, and will have expanded duties formulating strategy for Senate Democrats in the coming Congress,” said Schumer’s spokesman Matt House, referring to the Democratic Policy and Communications Center.

Brown, a champion of the Wall Street regulatory overhaul, will assume the ranking member slot in January just as the Republican-controlled Congress is likely to step up its campaign on the Dodd-Frank financial law (PL 111-203). GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama is poised to take the committee’s gavel next month.

Schumer’s decision comes after little suspense for observers of the Banking panel and the New York Senator.

Even if Democrats had retained control of the Senate, people familiar with Schumer’s thinking believed he likely would not have taken the chairmanship, in favor of his leadership role in the chamber.

But with the Senate flipping to GOP hands next year, Schumer was highly unlikely to take the job of managing the committee for his party.

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