WASHINGTON House leaders are pushing to bring a bill on capital standards for non-banks to a vote on the floor this week, part of a larger package of reforms to the Dodd-Frank Act.
The legislation, which would clarify the Federal Reserve's role in setting capital standards for insurers, sailed through the Senate in July, after the Fed said it needs the provision to move forward with pending regulations. The bipartisan bill, by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., makes a fix to the so-called Collins amendment of the Dodd-Frank Act.
But the measure has since been held up in the House, as Republicans reportedly considered how to potentially use it as a conduit for additional changes to the financial reform law.
"Given that there's no technical deadline for action on the Collins amendment, House Republicans can use it as a legislative vehicle to test how far the Senate will go in altering the Dodd-Frank Act," said Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading.
Several lobbyists said that lawmakers are planning to attach a handful of amendments to the bill, all of which have separately passed the House. The measures include exemptions for collateralized loan obligations under the Volcker Rule and for end-users from margin requirements under swaps rules. A third provision alters the calculation for certain "points and fees" under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's qualified mortgage rule by excluding some costs.
House Republicans have added the vote to the suspension calendar for this week, which means the bill would face limited floor debate but require a two-thirds vote from the lawmakers who are voting.
Bipartisan support for the legislation in the House could give Senate lawmakers pause, but it's not likely they would feel pressured to accept and pass the amended legislation. Senate Democrats continue to stand firm against broader changes to Dodd-Frank, fearing it could open up additional provisions of the reform law to attack. If the House bill dies it the Senate, it could put the onus back on the House to pass a clean version of the insurance standards fix in the lame duck, either as a standalone measure or as part of a larger must-pass bill.
"I don't see any political or procedural reason for the Senate to take up the Collins amendment bill if it's turned into a Christmas tree even if those ornaments have broad support," Boltansky added.
Still, others were more optimistic that the added measures are minor enough to escape major scrutiny in the Senate.
"Our expectation is that the Senate will take up the bill and put it on the unanimous consent calendar," said Jaret Seiberg, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities, in a note to clients Monday morning. "There is always a risk that some senator could try to blow up this bill, but we believe the odds favor enactment of this measure, as there has been broad bipartisan support for both the SIFI insurer provision and the CLO provision."