If Rutgers law school graduates who are in the U.S. Congress were to carpool to Washington, D.C., they could zip down the Capital Beltway’s high occupancy vehicle lane. With the election of Elizabeth Warren NLAW’76 of Massachusetts to the U.S. Senate and the reelection of Senator Bob Menendez NLAW’79 of New Jersey, voters are represented by two consumer-friendly Democrats. They join two alumni who have served a combined 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives—Frank Pallone Jr. CLAW’78, a progressive Democrat who represents the Sixth District in Central Jersey, and Scott Garrett CLAW’84, a libertarian-minded Republican who ranks among the most conservative members of Congress and represents the Fifth District in the state’s northern reaches.
Warren and Menendez could pack a powerful one-two punch on behalf of financial consumers. That’s why some banking industry lobbyists waged an unsuccessful postelection offensive to keep her off the influential Senate Banking Committee, where, according to a New York Times editorial, “she could do the most harm to the status quo, and the most good for the country.” Menendez, who sits on the panel, agrees that the assignment is plum for the bankruptcy law expert whose advocacy led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010, but who was rebuffed by political opponents as the watchdog’s first director. “It takes her from a freshman senator who would have to develop the bona fides to someone who is looked to right away,” said Menendez, reelected to his second six-year term in the Senate after serving 13 years in the House.
Warren is no stranger to the capital. The Harvard Law School professor and Obama administration adviser chaired the congressional panel that was charged with overseeing Troubled Asset Relief Program funds; she was then named to Time magazine’s Time 100 list of most influential people in 2011. Now that she has been appointed to the banking panel, it remains to be seen how influential she will be in the Senate as she and her fellow alumni legislators try to break the thickening logjam in Congress.
— Angela Delli Santi