WASHINGTON - House lawmakers approved a package of financial services bills on Wednesday, including a controversial delay of the Volcker Rule, despite strong opposition from key Democrats.
The House approved the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act by a vote of 271-154, after Republicans failed to win support from Democrats on the legislation last week.
The fight over the bill has focused on a provision that would delay banks' deadline for selling off millions of dollars' worth of certain collateralized loan obligations under the Volcker Rule for two additional years, until July 2019.
"All of these bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, and now, because of this almost religious zeal for the Dodd-Frank brand again, some of my Democratic colleagues have decided that they were for it before they were against it," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, during floor debate Tuesday night.
The 11-bill package contains a host of other, less divisive measures, including the removal of an indemnification requirement to allow regulators to share swaps data with their foreign counterparts and a clarification under Dodd-Frank for nonbank affiliates that use a central treasury unit. Other bills are directed at emerging growth companies and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Democrats successfully defeated an earlier vote on the legislation last week, when it came up under the suspension calendar, which requires two-thirds support for passage. Top lawmakers, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member on the banking panel, pushed back strongly on the bill, winning enough opposition to temporarily vanquish it.
But GOP leaders vowed to bring the bill up for consideration again under regular order, this time winning 29 Democratic votes in the process.
The White House weighed in with a Statement of Administration Policy on Monday, saying that the president's top advisors "would recommend that he veto the bill" over concerns with the Volcker Rule delay and other provisions in the bill.
"The Volcker Rule is a key component of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act that prevents institutions from taking excessive risks through proprietary trading and fund investing, and taxpayers should not have to wait that long to have limits in place that protect them from risky practices," the statement said.
The legislation now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., declined to comment on whether the new chairman of the Banking Committee would take up the package.
Meanwhile, House lawmakers approved a broader bill Tuesday evening that would impose new restrictions on how regulations are crafted across different agencies. The Regulatory Accountability Act mandates stricter cost-benefit analyses for new rules, and establishes additional procedures for regulators to follow. The bill passed the House 250-175, with just 8 Democrats signing on.
The White House issued a separate Statement of Administration Policy on Monday against the bill, again threatening a veto.
"This bill would make the regulatory process more expensive, less flexible, and more burdensome -- dramatically increasing the cost of regulation for the American taxpayer and working class families," the statement said.