House panel approves reg reform bill along party lines

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WASHINGTON — After more than two days of debate, the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday approved its sweeping Dodd-Frank Act rollback bill.

The Financial Choice Act, sponsored by Chair Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex., can now proceed to the House for a full vote from the chamber, which is expected to approve it. Still, it is highly unlikely it will be approved by the Senate. Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo acknowledged as much last month, saying large changes would require bipartisan support, which the Choice Act currently lacks.

“The Financial Choice Act ends bailouts so Washington can never again pick taxpayers’ pockets and hand the money over to big banks,” Hensarling said. “With the Financial Choice Act, the era of big-bank bailouts and ‘too big to fail’ will be over.”

The bill would allow institutions that agree to hold a 10% leverage ratio to be exempt from Basel III capital and liquidity requirements, gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s powers and eliminate the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s authority to resolve failing systemically important financial institutions, among a raft of deregulatory measures. It passed in a party-line vote 34 to 26.

The mood on Thursday was subdued, after Democrats had spent two long days trying to introduce a number of amendments to the bill, which were blocked one after the other by Republicans.

Democrats also used the long markup as a platform to air their concerns over the administration’s perceived friendliness towards the financial industry, as well as the numerous allegations of conflict of interest that have swirled around President Trump.

“Earlier this year, President Trump said he would do ‘a number’ on Dodd-Frank,” Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the top Democrat on the panel, said during the start of the debate on Wednesday. “Well, Republicans are rushing to answer his call with the Wrong Choice Act. In just over 100 days, the Trump administration ranks have swelled with Wall Street insiders.”

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