After a long day of deliberation and negotiation, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs voted late Tuesday afternoon in favor of sending S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, to the full Senate for a floor debate. Supported by Republicans and some moderate Democrats, the bill would make significant changes to the Dodd-Frank reform bill passed in 2010. The final vote to advance the new bill was 16-7 in favor.
In addition to the Committee’s 12 Republicans, four Democrats voted to advance the bill, including Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Sen. Jon Tester (Montana), and Sen. Mark Warner (Virginia).
Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the Banking Committee, said, “The bill has received widespread support from commentators, regulators, businesses, and institutions representing millions of hard working Americans and consumers, including over 10,000 community bankers, more than 100 million credit union consumer members, and thousands of small business owners and entrepreneurs, among others.”
The bill would modify key parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Under the bill, banks with assets less than $100 billion would be immediately exempted from federal stress tests. Banks with less than $10 billion in assets would be exempted from the Volcker rule, which restricts U.S. banks from certain speculative investments. It would also change the threshold for systemically important financial institutions (SIFI) from $50 billion to $250 billion.
"These reforms make progress toward Treasury’s core financial principles released in June and demonstrate bipartisan support to re-balancing our regulatory framework,” said recently sworn-in Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting in a statement. “I look forward to working with the members of the committee and fellow regulators to continue this work in the weeks and months ahead.”
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) criticized the bill, saying, “There’s nothing to help people with record high levels of student loan debt; nothing to help those with underwater mortgages; and nothing to help workers who are struggling to get by.”
“I guarantee you that without this bill the only people that we would be empowering are the big banks,” Sen. Tester said.
Sen. Brown opposed the bill, along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland.), Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey).
Sen. Crapo said, “The reforms in this bipartisan bill help tailor the current regulatory landscape, while ensuring safety and soundness and relieving the burden on American businesses that are unfairly being treated like the largest companies in our economy.”