How Elections Will Affect The Title Industry

November 9, 2006

Edward Miller, Chief Counsel & V.P. of Public Policy, ALTA®

We are still waiting for final results from Virginia. So currently, the ratio is 50-49 if we count incoming Independent Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Joe Lieberman as voting with the Democrats. Lieberman won as an Independent in Connecticut after being abandoned by the Democrats in his primary race. Sen. Lieberman now sits in the catbird seat as both the Democrats and Republicans will woo him for his vote. It now looks like the best the Republicans can hope for is a 50-50 split if they hold Virginia. Under this scenario it is likely that there will be a power sharing agreement. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will remain important on the Banking Committee. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) would take over the Committee under Democratic control. Dodd is known as a supporter of the insurance industry due to its heavy presence in Connecticut. There is one vacancy for each party on the Committee with the retirement of Sen. Sarbanes (D-MD) and the defeat of Sen. Santorum (R-PA).

On other Committees that might affect the industry with Democratic control the Finance Committee will be chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT); the Judiciary Committee would be chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT); and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will be chaired by Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI).

Democrats have taken over the House of Representatives. With thirteen seats still undecided, the Democrats have captured 227 seats to the Republicans' 195. No incumbent Democrats lost their seats. This is almost a mirror image of the majority Republicans held during the 109th Congress.

Next year, the House Financial Services Committee will be chaired by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). Although a liberal member of the caucus, Rep. Frank is one of the most intelligent Members of the House who understands that business and government must work together to succeed. He has given us some indication that the focus will come off real estate industry practices, including title insurance, and be targeted to increasing low and moderate income housing production.

There are seven Republican vacancies and two Democratic vacancies on the Committee due to retirements and losses. The ratio will switch to give Democrats majority control over all Committees and Subcommittees. Potential Subcommittee Chairmen according to seniority include: Reps. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). It is unknown today whether all of these senior Members will take Chairs with this Committee or switch to other Committees as Democratic representation increases.

Committee Republican seats lost due to retirement are Reps. Bob Ney (R-OH), Mark Kennedy (R-MN) and Katherine Harris (R-FL). Reps. Jim Leach (R-IA), Sue Kelly (R-NY) and Jim Ryun (R-KS) were defeated. Democratic Members retiring to run for Senate were Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who won his Senate race.

Other Committees with some interest in title industry issues should see the following Chairs take the gavel: Energy and Commerce-Rep. John Dingell (D-MI); Judiciary-Rep. John Conyers (D-MI); and Ways and Means-Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

TIPAC Election Results
The Title Industry Political Action Committee (TIPAC) supported 75 candidates up for election in 2006. Two candidates retired and nine lost either their bids for reelection or for higher office.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or

North American Title Insurance Company (NATIC) is a seasoned title insurance underwriter, helping title agents to achieve their individual business goals for more than 50 years. Today, the company conducts real estate settlement services in 39 states and the District of Columbia through a network of experienced, independent agents.