Maxine Waters says easing banking regulations 'will come to an end' when she takes committee chair

  • Rep. Maxine Waters pledged Wednesday that Trump administration efforts to roll back banking reforms won't stand when the new Congress convenes.
  • The California Democrat is expected to take over as chair of the House Financial Services Committee.
  • "Make no mistake, come January, in this committee the days of this committee weakening regulations and putting our economy once again at risk of another financial crisis will come to an end," Waters said during a hearing with Randal Quarles, the Fed's vice chair of banking supervision.

Rep. Maxine Waters, poised to take over the powerful House Financial Services Committee when the new Congress convenes in January, laid down the law Wednesday about the future of banking regulation.

Speaking ahead of remarks by Randal Quarles, the Federal Reserve's vice chair of oversight for the banking industry, the California Democrat said efforts to loosen the reins on Wall Street financial institutions won't be tolerated should she be committee chair, as expected.

"Make no mistake, come January, in this committee the days of this committee weakening regulations and putting our economy once again at risk of another financial crisis will come to an end," Waters said.

Bank shares moved lower following a CNBC report on the remarks, with the SPDR S&P Bank ETF down 0.6 percent in morning trade.

Waters is likely to take over as chair of the committee following the midterm elections that gave back House control to the Democrats. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, currently presides over the committee.

In addition to Wednesday's remarks, she has indicated she might use subpoena power to investigate President Donald Trump's connection to Deutsche Bank and whether it loaned Trump money that was guaranteed by the Russian government.

Since Trump began his term in early 2017, the administration has sought to loosen the regulatory reins imposed by the Dodd-Frank reforms that came into being after the financial crisis that exploded in 2008. In particular, the White House and the Fed have worked to tailor capital rules to be less onerous on regional and community banks.

Waters seemed to direct her comments specifically to the bigger institutions, particularly the too-big-to-fail banks that helped trigger the crisis. She made her comments shortly before Quarles said the Fed is looking to further ease up on community banks.

"It is essential that the Fed keeps a watchful eye on the financial institutions it supervises and makes strong use of its existing enforcement tools to crank down on institutions that break the law," she said. "I must say that I am concerned about proposals the Fed has put forth this year to reduce capital and liquidity requirements for the largest financial institutions which would weaken strong safeguards established by Dodd-Frank to protect the U.S. economy from another costly financial crisis."

There was some conciliation, though. Waters said the press and even some of her colleagues have wrongly portrayed her relationship with Republicans, and she hopes they can cooperate.

"I look forward to working with you in any and every way that I can," she said.

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