GOP Still Faces Stiff Resistance

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WASHINGTON-Though the House GOP is certain to hold numerous hearings and conduct rigorous oversight of implementation of the Dodd-Frank law, their ability to change or overturn it is muted so long as the Democrats control the White House (and possibly the Senate).

Likewise, though many top conservatives want to eliminate government's role in the mortgage market, their chances of success are slim to none for at least two years.

"What can happen in the next two years? Not a whole lot. There is stasis or deadlock," said Lawrence White, an economics professor at New York University's Stern School of Business.

Kip Weissman, a partner in Luse Gorman, said Republican lawmakers will hope to make their points in a series of hearings rather than trying to pass legislation.

"Hearings is what I hear," he said. "Hearings, hearings and hearings. That seems to be the strategy. It's part of a larger political and ideological strategy for the [Republican] party, so it's way beyond banking."

Hearings alone still could have a large impact. "The work will focus on the hundreds of regulations pending," said William Longbrake, the executive in residence at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business and a former vice chairman of Washington Mutual Inc. "The focus of activity will really be on shaping on regulations. What the Senate and House can do is hold hearings and try to influence how the regulations get shaped."

Still, even if Congress cannot pass much new legislation, limited changes in Dodd-Frank could be achieved, some said. For example, regulatory relief legislation could seek to limit the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, define certain derivatives terms to moderate the law's restrictions on swaps activity and limit the effect of the Volcker Rule.

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