Committee assignments hold special significance for members of Congress, as they reflect some of the key issue areas on which members will work. Indeed, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Financial Services Committee seat will let her "dig into" the student loan crisis, among other topics.
The congresswoman announced her committee assignment on Twitter on Tuesday. As Ocasio-Cortez wrote:
Financial Services is one of just four exclusive committees in the House. It oversees big banks, lending, & the financial sector. I am very grateful for the opportunity to sit on this committee as a freshman, and look forward to working under the leadership of @RepMaxineWaters!
In another tweet, the congresswoman indicated that she has already identified some key policy issues she wants to examine as a committee member. "Personally, I’m looking forward to digging into the student loan crisis, examining for-profit prisons/ICE detention, and exploring the development of public & postal banking. To start,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
The House Financial Services Committee, which is chaired by longterm Representative Maxine Waters, notes on its website that it has jurisdiction over a wide array of issue areas. These areas include: "banks and banking, economic stabilization, financial aid to commerce and industry, insurance, international finance, international financial and monetary organizations, money and credit, public and private housing, securities and exchanges, and urban development."
As Politico reported, three other progressive first-time congresswomen are also expected to join Ocasio-Cortez on this committee. Democrats Katie Porter of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts have all reportedly secured seats on the committee as well, the outlet noted. In the past, Waters has praised the outspoken, barrier-breaking efforts of some of the Democratic caucus' newest members. "[Their direct approach is] good for the institution ... They won't be ashamed," Waters said in an interview on MSNBC. "They won't be afraid. They really believe in what they're doing."
Ocasio-Cortez's campaign platform reveals that, in addition to addressing the student loan crisis, her committee membership will likely also allow her to work on many other issues for which she advocated as a candidate. For example, Ocasio-Cortez noted on her campaign website that she believes that "housing is a human right." She also indicated "that Congress must tip the balance away from housing as a gambling chip for Wall Street banks and fight for accessible housing that's actually within working families' reach." Addressing these housing-related issues likely very much falls within the purview of the House Financial Services Committee's work.
Chairwoman Waters seems to agree with Ocasio-Cortez about the importance of addressing the issue of affordable housing in the United States. Waters shared similar sentiments regarding the topic in a Jan. 14 interview, the Washington Post reported. “It is devastating. There are so many people who, for whatever reasons, don’t have access to safe and secure houses,” she said. " ... I saw communities that have been devastated because of the local foreclosures. I learned an awful lot about what the banks did [and] how they did it. And this informs me about what needs to be done [now]."
The Washington Post noted that Waters is expected to release a plan regarding committee priorities on Wednesday. It's certainly clear that Ocasio-Cortez is looking forward to making inroads into the committee's agenda alongside her colleagues.