Hemet High grad Chris Campbell’s nomination hearing to Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, U.S. Department of the Treasury
■ Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Editor
“I come from the humblest of beginnings. I lived most of my childhood in poverty, really never thinking that I would be afforded the opportunities that have been presented to me over the last two decades,” said Chris Campbell in his opening statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs during his nomination hearing July 18.
Campbell’s nomination was “hereby ordered and reported favorably to the full Senate” by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) after the unanimous voice vote in Campbell’s favor nine days after his hearing. Next up for Campbell is a vote on the floor of the Senate.
The committee had its job cut out for it as it had several candidates to consider for positions during the hearing. Until his nomination by President Trump, Campbell had been working as Staff Director for Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee.
“I believe that my experience has prepared me well for this position. I think it’s safe to say that few, if any, nominees considered by this committee have ever been more cognizant of the need for cooperation between Congress and agencies in the executive branch,” said Campbell. “If confirmed, I will look forward to working with the members of this committee to ensure safety and soundness of financial institutions and practices, fairness, and avenues through which the financial sector works to facilitate economic growth and opportunities for all Americans.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) asked Campbell, “As assistant of financial institutions, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) fund will fold directly under your oversight. If confirmed, will you lend some light and be supportive of CDFI funds?”
Campbell replied that although he was not part of the administration when the budget was developed, he felt that support was forthcoming if he were confirmed.
“…I am definitely a creature of this institution and worked closely with you on Puerto Rico issues and others. With regards to the CDFI specifically, I am confident in you and your colleagues’ ability to best determine how you wanted to spend the spare dollars–if afforded and appropriated–to the CDFI. If confirmed, I will do my best to work with you and your colleagues and staff.”
Menendez interrupted Campbell’s response with, “The challenge of hearing that answer is if confirmed you have the ability to advocate policy in the Treasury Department and in the administration and inter-agency process. And I know you are going to follow the lead of whatever the final decision is whether by Congress or the administration. What I am asking you is–do you believe the CDFI funds provide a good basis for development in these communities and can you be an advocate [of] that even [if] at the end of the day you lose your advocacy?”
“I want to work with you and your staff and I know your strong commitment to this issue,” replied Campbell. “There is some duplication within the administration that covers CDFI. I think there are perhaps ways to streamline those issues to make the use of taxpayers’ funds more efficient and more effective to these communities. I hope that we can work together and create a dialogue in which we can find a way to better streamline those and be able to deliver those necessary resources to those communities.”
Campbell outlined his qualifications for the job in his opening statement and said: “Overseeing the Republican efforts on the committee has required not only policy knowledge and experience, but also the ability to manage different people with varying skill sets and expertise. And I believe we’ve been successful,” said Campbell. “In the last Congress alone, the Finance Committee reported [out] a record number of bills–several dozen in fact–all of them bipartisan. And the vast majority of those bills were eventually signed into law.
“I can’t take credit for everything the Finance Committee has accomplished while I’ve been there. The credit belongs to Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden, and Sen. Baucus, who was chairman when I first started there, and all of the members on both sides of the dais. But, once again, during my time on the committee–and throughout all my time in the Senate–I have sought to leave a mark and build a reputation for being an effective advocate, a bipartisan facilitator, and a strong leader.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Campbell about stress tests under the Dodd Frank Act and how they are required for banks with more than $10 billion in consolidated assets and if he believes that any of those banks, or banks in the $10 billion to $20 billion range, pose a systemic risk to our financial system.
“When addressing this issue, I think it’s important to suggest that size isn’t everything in these areas. I think it is more the activity that the institutions are involved [in],” replied Campbell. “As you know, recently in the Treasury report the secretary suggested some modifications to the financial regulations in this area to make sure the access to capital for smaller and medium banks is more available to your farmers and to your businesses when they need the access to capital. If confirmed, I will be working closely with you and members of the committee to right size and tailor these to allow greater access to capital from small and medium size institutions.”
In his opening statement, Campbell acknowledged that, “The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions is responsible for leading Treasury’s efforts to monitor and regulate our nation’s banks and securities markets and to ensure our financial sector is resilient in times of crisis.”
He continued, “In addition, [the position] is responsible for coordinating, among other things, Treasury’s work on financial education, consumer protection, community development, affordable housing, and cyber security. In other words, the position has a broad focus, dealing with our largest banks and investment companies as well as small community organizations. This is not unlike the broad jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) asked several questions of Campbell. “If confirmed, will you work with Congress to incorporate recommendations related to needed consumer and investor protections in subsequent treasury reports?”
“If confirmed, there’s no more important job I would have than the protection of consumers,” replied Campbell.
Present at Campbell’s nomination hearing were his sister Michelle (Mimi) and his brother-in-law Richard Badura, his brother Eric and sister Catherine. He wanted to acknowledge his two other siblings who could not attend–Scot and Marc, and his mother, who was too ill to travel. Campbell said that his father, who passed away a few years ago, would have been proud to sit in the audience. Campbell also wanted to acknowledge the many friends, and colleagues who had flown in for the occasion.