Later in the Congress, Hensarling spearheaded a bill that would phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, massive government-sponsored enterprises that invest in the secondary mortgage market. His bill passed the committee, but went no further as leadership made the calculation that the legislation could not pass the full House.
Hensarling instead blamed the stall on the Senate's slow work on passing their version of the bill, leaving little time at the end of the Congress to pass a conferenced product.
Nevertheless, Republicans on Hensarling's committee noted that those two experiences ultimately cut them out of the process of reforming either federal program, especially frustrating for those Republicans who would settle for incremental changes so long as they helped craft them.
"I would like to see him as more of a consensus builder," said a second GOP member on the panel. "Getting past the committee, if that's your ultimate goal, then so be it. But I think that making it become substantive law is going to require reaching across the aisle—and quite frankly reaching across our side of the aisle—to make sure that you get enough support to get it over to the Senate. I'm not so sure we're on that course."
Others, however, have come to believe Hensarling does indeed have a long-term strategy, an idea buoyed by the Ex-Im Bank extension unlinked from spending decisions. Those in the financial services industry are so jarred by his intractability that they may be more inclined to swallow a terrorism-insurance deal closer to his version, those sources noted.
"Jeb has grown on me," said a third Republican on the committee. "I frankly think he's one of the few chairmen who is navigating and leveraging the negotiating process to his favor. We haven't seen the win yet, but I think you'll see a lot of wins in the next Congress based off the work that Jeb has done."
That could be especially true if Senate Republicans win control of their chamber.
"Hope springs eternal," Hensarling said. "I've already had a number of conversations with Sen. [Richard] Shelby, who might, and hopefully will, be the next Senate Banking Committee chairman, and we have had preliminary discussions about what he would like to achieve."
Hensarling has had some success on smaller issues, as the Financial Services panel has approved several regulatory relief bills—many of them bipartisan—that have been passed by the full House.
And despite his divisions with leadership, Hensarling has some well placed allies. At a Thursday appearance at the Financial Services Roundtable, Rep. Paul Ryan, who is very close to Hensarling, tried to put industry executives at ease. He told the group to work with Hensarling rather than fight him on an extension of terrorism insurance.
Ryan's is an example Hensarling said he models his own struggles after. "The first time he introduced his Medicare reform plan he had all of 12 Republicans" supporting it, Hensarling said, noting that he was one of them. Now, most Republicans routinely vote in favor.