Wall Street welcomes expected Chuck Schumer promotion

Willie Grace | 3/27/2015, 6:14 p.m.
Chuck Schumer is set to get a big promotion -- and that's welcome news to Wall Street.
Sen. Chuck Schumer Monday, October 7, 2013, called on House Republicans to pass a "clean" increase to the government's debt ceiling, a day after House Speaker John Boehner said a clean increase just wasn't going to happen. Schumer was on CNN's "New Day" warning against the dangers of Congress failing to increase the nation's $16.7 trillion limit on how much money can be borrowed.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Chuck Schumer is set to get a big promotion -- and that's welcome news to Wall Street.

The veteran Democratic senator from New York is widely expected to take Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's job when he retires at the end of 2016. Reid, who announced he would not be running for reelection Friday morning, quickly endorsed his New York colleague for the role.

Schumer's ascension to the top Democratic position in the Senate -- and even possibly to Senate majority leader if his party regains control of the chamber -- is a boon for the finance and business communities, which have worked closely with the New York native and enjoyed his support for decades. It also puts an industry ally in charge of the Democratic caucus as the party's economic populists, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, have grown increasingly vocal.

Former Republican New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, who recently served as the head of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said Schumer "knows everybody in the financial community, as it's based in New York, on a first-name basis."

"It'll be a big plus to have somebody like that if he ends up being Democratic leader," Gregg said. "He may not agree with you, but at least you're going to get a fair hearing and he's going to understand what you're talking about."

The promotion is a long time coming for Schumer, who has been vice chair of the Democratic Conference since 2007.

Earlier this year, the senator passed on becoming ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, ending months of speculation and making room for Brown, a vocal critic of the big banks, to take the position. It was presumed that the decision at least in part had to do with the possibility of Reid's retirement.

As a member of the Senate Banking and Finance committees, Schumer is well-versed on financial regulatory issues, and business leaders say he is a fierce champion of the industry in New York and nationwide. Over the years, Schumer has supported the financial and business sectors on some of their top agenda items, earning him the reputation of being a pro-business industry ally.

Just several months ago, the senior New York senator played a central role in the drawn-out negotiations on Capitol Hill to extend a government terrorism risk insurance program that was set to expire at the end of the year. Keeping the program alive was a top priority for many corporations and the insurance industry.

Schumer also has close personal relationships with many of New York's financial elite. During his time as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Schumer actively courted deep-pocketed donors in the industry.

"From a New York perspective, there's nothing that could be better than having a New Yorker at the top of the Senate leadership," said Izzy Klein, a former senior Schumer staffer and principal at the Podesta Group, a lobbying and PR firm based in Washington, D.C. "From Main Street issues to the financial issues and everything in between, he's always kept New York at the top of his agenda and that will continue as majority leader."