By Karey Wutkowski and Rachelle Younglai
WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (Reuters) – South Dakota Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, a champion of community banks and credit card companies, is expected to take over the chairmanship of the influential U.S. Senate Banking Committee in 2011.
With the announcement on Wednesday by Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd that he will not seek re-election in November, Johnson is next on the seniority list to lead the panel, which is in the midst of a debate over financial regulation reform.
In a flurry of speculation following Dodd’s news, financial services industry lobbyists and analysts said that the banking committee under Johnson would likely be more favorable to some business sectors than it has been under Dodd.
“Johnson is widely viewed as a friend of the credit card sector and his elevation to chairman should put to rest worries over interchange (the fee that stores pay banks for credit card purchases) and interest rate caps,” said policy analyst Jaret Seiberg at investment firm Concept Capital.
Johnson was the only Democratic senator to vote last year against a credit card reform bill to curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees. The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama in his first financial reform victory.