House GOP releases Dodd-Frank replacement bill, sets hearing

The Washington Examimer - Joseph Lawler - 19 April 2017

House Republicans released their updated bill to replace former President Barack Obama's financial reform law Wednesday and set a hearing on the sweeping legislative package for next Wednesday.

"Dodd-Frank failed to keep its promises to the American people, but we will work with President Trump to follow through on his promise to dismantle Dodd-Frank," Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said in announcing the hearing. "That's not what Wall Street wants, but it is what hard-working Americans need to have a healthier economy with more opportunities so they can achieve financial independence."

The new text for the bill, the Financial Choice Act of 2017, weighed in at 593 pages, far fewer than the 2010 law it is meant to supplant but longer than last year's version.

The main premise of the bill is to cut back the rules imposed by the Dodd-Frank law. And for banks that opt to maintain a high level of capital, which would reduce the odds of bank failures and increase market discipline, the bill would provide for relief from several layers of regulation.

Hensarling, a Texas conservative, introduced the bill last year during the election. Trump has repeatedly said that he wants to largely undo Dodd-Frank, although he has not offered specifics.

This year's version of the bill includes several significant changes.

Perhaps most notably, the legislation would reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which oversees financial products such as mortgages and credit cards, by scaling back its authority and ensuring that the president can fire its director at will. Last year's version took a different tack, making the bureau a five-member, bipartisan commission.

While the bill is expected to have support in the House, lobbyists see poor prospects for it in the Senate, where 60 votes would be needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Nevertheless, its provisions will shape the legislative outlook for any bank relief measures.