By late 2009, Frank and Dodd began deep, protracted negotiations on legislation that came to bear their names: a rewrite of Wall Street oversight. The Dodd-Frank legislation tried to create a more transparent financial services industry, requiring more disclosure of exotic derivative trades and creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Wall Street firms, feeling abandoned by Frank and other Democrats who they thought were their allies, have fought some pieces of Dodd-Frank. Senate Republicans have vowed to block any appointment by Obama to the consumer protection bureau.
Frank’s departure will set off a scramble for the top Democratic slot on the Financial Services Committee. Next in line is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), but she is under investigation by the ethics committee over her office’s role in helping a bank receive bailout money while her husband was a major investor in the company.
Other Democrats who could get the top slot include Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), Luis V. Guitierrez (Ill.) and Nydia M. Velazquez (N.Y.).
Despite his partisan profile, Frank often has worked out imperfect compromises that slowly but surely have advanced his cause, whether they were over Wall Street regulation or gay rights.
In 1990, Frank was reprimanded during an investigation of allegations involving his relationship with a male prostitute who worked out of the lawmaker’s Capitol Hill townhouse. The panel found that Frank had no knowledge of the illegal activities, but it disciplined him for using his office to help take care of traffic tickets for his partner.
The lawmaker’s wit has made him one of the legendary sparring contenders for House floor debates and a sought-after personality in the age of cable television. However, in what in retrospect was a preview of his retirement announcement, Frank wrote earlier this year that he had grown exasperated with the increasing gridlock in this era of hyper-partisanship.
“Partisanship is a legitimate concept,” he wrote in Paulson’s book, “that has been discredited by the excesses of too many of its practitioners.”