WASHINGTON - Banking and credit union trade groups sent a joint letter Friday urging members of the Senate Banking Committee to move forward on bipartisan regulatory relief legislation ahead of a markup next week.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the panel, unveiled a draft proposal on Tuesday that detailed numerous changes to the Dodd-Frank Act for small and regional banks, along with reforms to the Federal Reserve and the Financial Stability Oversight Council. The question remains whether he can woo some number of Democrats to sign onto the bill by Thursday, when the panel is slated to vote on the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act.

"The draft is an important step toward addressing the statutory and regulatory obstacles that stymie banks and credit unions from more fully serving the diverse financial needs of American consumers," the American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Credit Union National Association and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions wrote in a joint letter on Friday. "We hope it sparks a robust discussion and results in meaningful regulatory relief that will allow the institutions we represent to focus on providing safe and affordable financial services that create jobs and grow American communities."

Shelby has repeatedly said he wants to move a bipartisan bill, though some Democrats have already balked at the scope of the legislation, arguing that it goes beyond relief for smaller institutions. The White House and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the panel's ranking member, have raised strong concerns about the bill as rolling back key parts of Dodd-Frank.

Some level of bipartisan support for the legislation could be key for it to win the momentum needed to move to the Senate floor. Still, if the chairman can't move the bill through regular order, he's warned that he may use the appropriations process to move parts of the proposal later this year.

Shelby is likely to focus his efforts on some of the committee's moderate Democrats, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Mark Warner of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, though it's so far unclear whether a deal can be struck.

"We strongly urge bipartisan agreement and congressional action that will result in a genuine focus on real-world issues financial institutions face as they serve their communities," the trade groups added.

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