WASHINGTON — House Republicans said Monday they are drafting five bills to repeal or change parts of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law that have been opposed by business groups.
The bills are to be discussed at House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. The hearing "will provide an opportunity to discuss several proposals that address some of the act's damaging provisions," Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., said in a statement.
While most Republicans opposed the landmark financial overhaul law's passage, they are not trying to reverse it outright. Instead, they are targeting specific provisions of the bill.
They aim to eliminate a piece of the law attempting to make credit-rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings liable if their initial ratings turn out to be faulty. Those credit-rating firms were forced to downgrade thousands of bonds backed by subprime mortgage securities as a result of the housing bust.
The provision, however, has been tough to implement. After the Dodd-Frank law was passed, the rating agencies refused to allow their ratings to be used in offering documents for securities backed by auto and credit card loans and other assets. As a result, the market for such asset-backed securities seized up last summer.
To get that market going again, the Securities and Exchange Commission suspended a rule requiring asset-backed issuers to include ratings in offering documents and has renewed that waiver indefinitely. The Republican legislation would permanently protect those ratings agencies from lawsuits.
House Republicans will also seek to exempt companies that use derivatives to hedge commercial risk from new requirements that they route their transactions through clearinghouses. Those companies have been lobbying for the change, arguing that the Dodd-Frank law leaves uncertainty about whether they would have to clear their derivatives trades.
Under the Dodd-Frank law, most routine swaps are to be traded on exchanges or similar electronic systems and routed through clearinghouses, which guarantee trades and require the posting of securities or cash as collateral, or margin. But corporations — known as "end users" because they use derivatives to hedge against everyday business risks like currency or fuel price fluctuations — have fought to secure exemptions.
Other Republican bills would exempt private equity fund managers from a Dodd-Frank requirement that they register with the SEC. While many larger private equity funds are already registered with the SEC, small and mid-sized fund advisers have been arguing that the registration requirement is expensive and burdensome.
Republicans also aim to cancel another provision requiring publicly traded companies to disclose the median annual total compensation of all employees and calculate a ratio of how employee compensation compares with that of the chief executive. Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., said the requirement "will serve no useful purpose for company shareholders, and will divert resources from job creation."
Finally, Republicans will introduce legislation to boost the offering threshold for companies that don't need to register with the SEC from $5 million to $50 million. Republicans say this change will make it easier for smaller companies to raise money for investment.