Senate GOP adds Dodd-Frank rewrite to $21B funding bill

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans are trying to use a must-do spending bill to advance legislation significantly rewriting a landmark law that tightened regulation of the financial services industry after the 2008 financial crisis that sparked the Great Recession.

The measure approved Wednesday by a Senate panel would ease requirements on smaller banks and give lenders greater freedom from mortgage lending rules. The legislation is opposed by Democrats who argue that the 2010 Dodd-Frank law strengthened protections for consumers and reduced the odds for a repeat of the 2008 financial meltdown.

The measure cleared the Banking Committee on a party-line vote two months ago and appears unlikely to pass the Senate soon. The underlying spending bill has a troubled path as well, since Democrats oppose its additional cuts to the IRS and other agencies.

The bill would lift the asset threshold for banks considered "too big to fail" from $50 billion to $500 billion, giving regulators flexibility to exempt them from tougher capital requirements and stricter oversight. It would also give mortgage lenders flexibility to avoid lending standards put in place after 2008, so long as they hold onto riskier loans rather than selling them.

It would also give lawmakers greater oversight powers over the Federal Reserve and force changes to the way the central bank produces a key report on its monetary policy moves. At the same time, the legislation would require the report to be submitted to Congress each quarter, instead of twice a year.

It leaves untouched some of the biggest issues addressed by the 2010 law, such as trading in complex instruments known as derivatives and the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But the measure still goes too far for Democratic defenders of Dodd-Frank, which was passed when Democrats controlled Congress in the second year of Obama's tenure and is named after former Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, the chief GOP sponsor of the bill, praised it for protecting political groups from a potential IRS crackdown.