Leaders on Capitol Hill have chosen Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin to serve on the influential House Committee on Financial Services beginning in January when he is sworn in to fill the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud.
The appointment is testament to Poliquin’s considerable skills in the financial sector and could be an indication that he is seen as a rising star in politics, though history shows that being appointed to the committee as a freshman congressman means Republican leaders want Poliquin focused on his 2016 re-election bid.
The committee, which is known informally as the House Banking Committee, oversees the financial services industry, including the securities, insurance, banking, international finance, credit, urban development and public and private housing industries. Poliquin said in a written statement that being on the committee will position him well to ensure Mainers have access to affordable home mortgages, auto loans and small business loans.
“Washington should do everything it can to help our job creators be successful instead of smothering them with red tape,” said Poliquin. “And, government must work tirelessly to protect our consumers during their everyday lives. As I’ve said all along, Washington needs to stick up for our families and taxpayers, and opposed future bank bailouts should this idea ever surface on my watch.”
In the Tea Party-fueled Republican wave of 2010, a majority of the 22 Republican freshman in the U.S. House were put on four coveted “A-list” congressional committees: Appropriations, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Financial Services. Analysis at the time by an online publication called The Hill showed that the appointments would help the more conservative wing of the Republican party accomplish its campaign promises of cutting government spending and reducing deficits.
The House Financial Services Committee — of which Poliquin has just been named a member — is one of the more popular places to put incoming freshmen. In 2010, 10 of the 12 GOP slots on the committee went to incoming GOP freshmen.
In July 2013, Politico reported that serving on the House Financial Services Committee was a powerful position in terms of campaign fundraising. Politico’s analysis of Federal Election Commission filings found that the 11 freshman lawmakers who serve on the committee raised an average of more than $320,000 in the second quarter of 2013, which was $100,000 more than the average haul for all other House freshmen.
Poliquin cruised to victory with 47 percent of the vote on Nov. 4, besting Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain by more than 5 percentage points, despite the presence in the race of very conservative independent candidate Blaine Richardson, who placed third with 11 percent of the vote. Despite that, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, has already thrown its support behind Cain in the 2016 election, as I reported here at State & Capitol last week.
Just weeks past Election Day 2014, it seems that a lot of eyes are already turned toward 2016. That means Poliquin will be under a magnifying glass during the first term of what he surely hopes will be an extended run in Congress. Whatever the reasons for his being placed on the House Financial Services Committee, it’s a venue from which he should be able to elevate his profile in Maine and beyond.
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