Speaker of the House John Boehner’s (R-OH) decision to resign from Congress at the end of October has set off speculation about who will replace him and who will move up in the Republican hierarchy. The ultra-conservative wing of the House Republicans, which threatened to unseat Mr. Boehner as Speaker, will continue to influence major decisions and may indeed have more power.
At this point, current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is expected to be the next Speaker. The major competition will be for the next Majority Leader. Among the names circulating is House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). If Mr. Hensarling moves up, there will need to be a new Chair for the Financial Services Committee. Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) has already announced his interest in the post.
Mr. Royce is the author of several legislative efforts to defund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). When Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt lifted the suspension on funding the NHTF from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Mr. Royce introduced H.R. 574, the “Pay Back the Taxpayers Act of 2015,” which would prohibit Fannie and Freddie from using funds for the NHTF as long as they remain in conservatorship (see Memo, 2/2/15). He had introduced the same bill in the previous Congress. Mr. Royce was also behind the provision in the FY15 House Appropriations bill that would have prevented HUD from spending any federal funds to implement the NHTF (see Memo, 12/15/2014).
On housing finance reform, Speaker Boehner was the backstop against further movement on Chair Hensarling’s PATH Act, which would have eliminated Fannie and Freddie, and the NHTF in the process (see Memo, 7/26/13.) The bill, H.R. 2767, was voted out of committee, but never brought to the House floor. More centrist House Republicans and the housing industry opposed the bill. It remains to be seen if the new House leadership will be willing to entertain similar legislation.