Former GOP “bomb-thrower” tries to calm SVB crisis

A young Patrick McHenry rose through the House GOP by slamming the government’s economic bailout plans in the wake of the global financial crisis. In 2008, the conservative North Carolinian – a self-proclaimed “bomb thrower” – helped out thwart the Bush administration’s first attempt to save Wall Streetwhich triggered a historic stock market crash.

Fourteen years later, with the banking system once again on the brink, McHenry is anything but partisan in his new role as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Rather than attacking the Biden administration’s decision to support depositors at two failing regional banks, his first move offered political protection and calm while the crisis unfolded.

“I have confidence in their ability to do the right thing,” McHenry said in an interview.

The methodical approach makes him a clear outlier in the Trump-era GOP, which is significantly louder and more populist than the Tea Party that emerged from the last financial crisis. McHenry says administration officials have responded well so far and he will investigate how the failure happened in the coming days.

“I worked with McHenry during this time,” said the Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown, a progressive Democrat from Ohio, said of the recent meltdown. “He seems to be in charge.”

McHenry’s attempt to instill restraint at this early stage is at odds with other Republicans bent on slamming President Joe Biden by portraying the bank bailout as a culture war concern — raising questions about how many are following his example become.

It’s a statesmanlike role played by the former upstart on a range of issues confronting the GOP, from debt ceiling to diversity, suggesting Democrats may have at least some top Republicans to contend with work together in the most severe economic problems facing the United States

“Everyone has their own opinion,” said Sen. Edge Paul (R-Ky.) when asked about the House GOP’s burgeoning position under McHenry’s leadership. “All I know is that I wouldn’t have saved them — a bunch of rich, left-wing, you know, political snobs.”

McHenry entered Congress in 2005 at the age of 29, giving little hint to those who knew him in those early days that he would become one of the GOP’s leading pragmatists and dealmakers.

A Roll Call columnist at the time called him “the GOP’s attack dog in training” as he fought then Majority Leader Tom Delay, who was facing criminal conspiracy charges, in an ethical battle against the Democrats. He joined the conservative Republican study committee chaired by Mike Pence, and after that year’s major domestic crisis – Hurricane Katrina – McHenry called for a cut in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting To rebuild schools.

“He was far right,” said Cam Fine, the former head of the Independent Community Bankers of America, which works closely with the Financial Services Committee. “He was quite bombastic, to be honest, and said a lot of things that made you shake your head a bit. … He was a ball of energy.”

People close to McHenry said he realized over time that he didn’t want to aspire to higher office and should take his work in the House of Representatives seriously — particularly on the Financial Services Committee.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who advised McHenry to prioritize a committee chair over leadership, said he was “a bomb thrower when he first came in … and then matured dramatically.”

“Eventually he decided I’d get bored of running around here like a maniac and I won’t play the part anymore — if I take it seriously, I can make a difference,” said Scott Stewart, a former roommate of McHenry’s who dated him met when they were college Republicans.

“Then he committed to understanding financial services and became a serious conservative without being a jerk.”

In the years that followed, McHenry followed a two-pronged path through the ranks of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, rising through the ranks of the Financial Services Committee and the House leadership, eventually becoming Chief Deputy Whip, one of the GOP’s finest tellers.

He became the top Republican for House Financial Services in 2019 and took over the presidency this year.

Before disaster struck the banking system in recent days, McHenry was determined to show off his dealmaking skills by reaching bipartisan compromises with top Financial Services Committee Democrat Rep. Maxine water (D-Calif.), on things like cryptocurrency legislation. Waters chaired the committee before the Democrats lost the House of Representatives in the 2022 election.

Shortly after becoming chairman, McHenry pulled flak from FOX News anchor Tucker Carlson and other conservative pundits by failing to completely remove a top priority for Waters — diversity and inclusion — from the committee’s oversight agenda.

“We have a good relationship,” Waters said. “That’s not to say that a good relationship will make me change my mind about some of his philosophies and vice versa. … But I respect him. He respects me.”

He also emerged as a peacemaker in the unruly house of GOP.

McHenry helped Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Lock down the voices he needed to become Speaker, a partnership that put the bow-tie-wearing Republican into the national spotlight as he negotiated with conservative rebels who dragged out the process for days and the Chamber paralyzed.

“He can relate to new young members throwing a lot of bombs,” Ryan said.

His ability to bring together different factions of the party earned him high praise from some of McCarthy’s closest allies.

“He’s one of the smartest guys up here,” Rep said. mansard tombs (R-La.) said. “He’s got great instincts and this amazing balance that’s rare up here of being both a politics nerd and being [having] really good strategic instincts.”

His other big project this year was trying to steer Republicans towards a solution to the debt ceiling standoff. He takes the position that holding the US Treasury hostage in exchange for spending cuts could be disastrous for markets, angering conservatives like former Trump OMB director Russell Vought, who said in an email: “I have no faith in Patrick McHenry.”

So it’s no surprise to those who know him that McHenry tried to get the House GOP to take a breath before launching the attack on the Biden administration’s bailout of depositors at the failed Silicon Valley bank and of the Signature Bank continues.

It’s challenging as a growing number of Republicans like Paul call the administration’s move a mistake.

“This is America,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) when asked about the House Republicans’ response. “Everyone has the right to their opinion. But it’s a bailout right now.”

representative Andy Barr of Kentucky, one of the deputies on McHenry’s committee, said, “Task #1 is that we are the adults in a serious situation.”

“This isn’t about poking around on both sides of the aisle,” Rep said. Blaine Lutkemeyer of Missouri, another member of McHenry’s committee leadership team. “This is a time when we feel the future of our country is at risk here.”

“We must rally around him and pull everyone together.”

Sam Sutton contributed coverage.

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