By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican chairman of a powerful House committee said Wednesday he remains confident that Congress will act to reform financial regulations “this year.”
Jeb Hensarling, head of the House Financial Services Committee, told Reuters he has assurances from the White House and congressional leaders that they want to review the Dodd-Frank financial reform law sometime in 2017.
“Every conversation that I’ve had with the president, vice president and speaker is that this continues to be a priority this year,” Hensarling said in an interview shortly after addressing the American Bankers Association conference in Washington.
The Dodd-Frank Act was enacted in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis and implemented a series of new rules and restrictions in the financial industry.
The banking industry is hopeful that its years-long efforts to water down the requirements of the legislation can gain traction now that Republicans control both the houses of Congress and the White House.
However, Hensarling told the ABA that there was significant evidence ahead of his efforts to significantly alter the regulatory landscape for financial institutions.
He noted that his counterpart, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, a Republican, faces the task of attracting enough Democratic supporters to pass legislation there.
It would take the support of at least eight Democrats to pass any major change to Dodd-Frank. However, Hensarling noted that some of the party’s most prominent voices, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, have perfected a sharp message that criticizes Wall Street and makes it more difficult to muster that support.
“He has challenges that I don’t have,” said Hensarling, who can advance the legislation to the House with the support of Republicans alone. “Right now, I’m afraid a lot of Democratic senators are feeling intimidated, frankly, by his political base.”
Some bank lobbyists have raised concerns that the White House‘s ambitious legislative agenda, including massive health care and tax code reforms, could complicate their efforts to win support for sweeping Dodd-Frank changes in Congress.
Hensarling said he plans to reintroduce his ambitious rewrite of financial rules, the Financial CHOICE Act, sometime “soon.”
But in a nod to the uphill climb facing his legislation in the Senate, he also said his committee would also consider smaller parts of the measure in separate bills.
“Keep hope alive; I believe that the provisions of the CHOICE Act will survive,” he told the ABA conference.
Under the Hensarling bill, the largest banks in the US would face less oversight. It would also dilute the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
(The story corrects the year 2017 as of 2016 in the title and second paragraph)
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