GOP, Dem Senators Look To Rewrite Liz Warren’s History

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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  • Bipartisan group of senators are attempting to roll back 2010 Dodd-Frank regulations. 
  • The bill would take aim at a number of the protective barriers Dodd-Frank put between consumers, banks and the greater economy in the wake of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.
  • Dem Sen. Liz Warren of Massachusetts is going to fight it tooth and nail. 

Republican and Democratic senators have one major target on the agenda this week: Retooling the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he plans to schedule a procedural vote on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo’s bill to relax rules and regulations Dodd-Frank imposed on small mid-size lenders.

Roughly all 51 Republican senators are expected to back Crapo’s bill, and Republican leadership is counting on at least 12 Democrats to vote for the measure. Many of those Democrats are up for re-election in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.

The bill would take aim at a number of the protective barriers Dodd-Frank put between consumers, banks and the greater economy in the wake of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.

Dodd-Frank was originally intended to increase transparency by implementing a consistent set of regulations aimed at closing loopholes and making firms accountable for their own mistakes. The bill attempted to shift the burden of major financial mistakes from taxpayers to market participants, ensuring those who partake in risky investment practices would bear the financial burden of their mistakes. Dodd-Frank promised to “end too big to fail” and “promote financial stability.”

Despite the act’s intentions, large banking institutions have grown dramatically since the passage of Dodd-Frank, and small community banks have incurred serious losses trying to keep up. Crippling regulations saddled smaller banks, forcing American consumers to market with fewer investment vehicles and greater costs.

Senators are looking to ease mortgage regulations on small and regional banks. The bipartisan group is also toying with the idea of easing liquidity reserve requirements for large banks, which were instituted after the Great Recession to ensure large lending institutions had enough capital on hand to help ease the burden of a financial crisis or episode.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is already posturing to stop the Republican’s effort to rewrite Dodd-Frank. The senator sent an email to her constituents Friday lambasting her Republican and Democratic colleagues for backing the bill, claiming they are selling out to industry lobbyists and bankers.

Warren, whose brainchild is the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB), is one of the most ardent supporters of the 2010 law, believing it is a crucial safeguard against malpractice on the part of large banks.

The senator has expressed some willingness to work on revising Dodd-Frank. Specifically, the senator said in June 2017 she would consider easing restrictions on small, community banks.

“There are places where we should do targeted changes in laws and regulations to make sure community banks don’t have to endure regulations,” Warren said in 2017 at the Wall Street Journal CFO Network Annual Meeting. The senator explained that it is likely unfair for community banks to endure heavy regulations imposed on large banks when they “don’t pose” the same kind of threat to the economy if they endure a crisis.

Warren did say she would not support rolling back regulations on Wall Street or dismantling the CFPB.

The Trump administration unveiled a proposal in early February that would begin a substantive roll back of the 2010 law.

The Department of the Treasury released a 57-page proposal that did not fully repeal Dodd Frank, keeping a crucial provision that allows the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to take control of an insolvent bank and restructure it using federal money.

Treasury officials recommended that the provision, known as the Orderly Liquidation Authority (OLA), be kept as a failsafe in the event that one or more major banks are insolvent and could cause a major financial crisis. The Treasury listed a number of steps to ensure that a potential bailout would not simply be for investors but for the safety and stability of the financial system.

House Republicans voted in 2017 to repeal OLA and replace it with a bankruptcy process. Doing so, critics argue, would undermine the central purpose of Dodd Frank — preventing major bank failures that lead to financial crisis.

The House, under the leadership of House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, has passed a number of provisions that repeal aspects of Dodd-Frank. If the Senate successfully passes Crapo’s legislation, it will have to go to the House for conference before it can make its way to the president’s desk for approval.

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