Ocasio-Cortez reportedly in line for banking post, and that could be bad news for Wall Street

Democratic Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York talks to reporters as she arrives for a class photo with incoming newly elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2018. Carlos Barria|Reuters

Big banks could be about to get a high-profile enemy in a very powerful place.

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is a registered Democrat but identifies as a democratic socialist, is in line to be appointed to the House Financial Services Committee, according to a Politico report.

The New York legislator has vowed to take on the industry that makes up the corporate backbone for much of her constituency. She said during her successful campaign in 2018, in which she refused corporate donors and upset entrenched incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley, that she was hoping for an assignment that would allow her to take on big finance.

“I think with our district, we can be ambitious, so we’re kind of swinging for the fences on committees,” Ocasio-Cortez told Hill.tvin an interview after her win. “We might as well ask for something big.”

With prominent Democrats looking to unwind two years of deregulation under President Donald Trump, the seat will put her in a position to exert substantial influence.

Her appointment also will give new committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., an important ally.

During a hearing in November, shortly after the Democrats recaptured the House in the midterm elections, Waters promised that the days of Wall Street deregulation were over.

“”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,” she said in remarks that briefly roiled markets.

CNBC has reached out to Ocasio-Cortez for comment.

Trump targeted post-financial crisis finance reforms during his own campaign, saying they were overreach that had kept banks from lending and wrongly penalized institutions that had little or nothing to do with the crisis.

Just a few days ago, the Federal Reserve proposed tailoring capital and liquidity rules for banks with $100 billion to $250 billion in assets. That move dovetails with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act that Congress passed last year. Part of the legislation raised the benchmark for banks getting more intense regulatory scrutiny from $50 billion to $100 billion; the baseline will move to $250 billion in December.

The Politico report characterized Ocasio-Cortez’s chance of the committee appointment as “strong” and said other more senior legislators have sought to ingratiate themselves with the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.

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