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Dodd-Frank relief bill moves closer to Senate vote

The Senate bill to tweak the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has been moving slowly toward final passage this week.

The bipartisan bank regulatory-relief bill S. 2155, known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relieve and Consumer Protection Act, now appears on track for a final vote in the Senate, possibly as early as Thursday.

doddfrankreform(1)On Monday, the Senate passed, by a 66-30 margin, a procedural motion to limit debate and establish a time frame to vote. A dozen moderate Democrats are cosponsors, and the bill is widely expected to pass with a filibuster proof 60 votes. It is less clear what the fate of the bill will be if the Senate approves it.

The bill is strongly supported by banking groups and mortgage trade associations. It is considered a big win for smaller banks, which would be exempted from many of the Dodd-Frank regulations passed after the financial crisis. Smaller banks would have more leeway to experiment with more exotic loan products so long as they keep them on their books.

It also contains a number of changes that the mortgage lobby supports, such as allowing nonbank originators to obtain a temporary license when moving across state lines or from a bank institution, and exempting small mortgage companies from the enhanced reporting requirements under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

The bill’s principal author, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, has purposely tailored a relief package to hold together enough votes from Democrats. The bill, for example, does not propose any changes to the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Crapo has so far not allowed major changes via amendment and included only a few noncontroversial measures previously passed by the House Financial Services Committee, according to news reports.

The bill still faces considerable opposition from leading Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the ranking member on the Senate banking committee.

Late last week, the Senate delayed a vote after the parties couldn’t agree on roughly 100 amendments that had been offered up mostly by Democrats who oppose the legislation. 

On the other side of the political aisle, Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the conservative chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told reporters that the bill doesn’t go far enough to unwind the regulations, according to the online news service the Hill.

If the Senate bill passes this week, a final bill will likely be hammered out in a conference between both houses, where House conservatives could attempt to expand the scope of the reform, the Hill reported. Attempts to weaken Dodd-Frank regulations further could erode the legislation's fragile support among the Democrat sponsors and sink the bill’s chances, according to some analysts. 


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