McConnell tees up likely Senate vote on reg relief

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WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed a motion on the Senate floor Thursday setting up a potential vote next week on a bipartisan regulatory relief package.

The cloture motion moves the chamber closer to advancing the bill spearheaded by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and co-sponsored by 12 Democrats. McConnell's move follows earlier comments by Crapo that signaled a vote for next week.

The Democratic caucus is split on its support for the banking bill, which provides regulatory relief to small and midsize institutions. However, one of the most contentious portions of the bill would raise the Dodd-Frank Act's “systemically important financial institution” threshold from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion, which would help larger regional banks.

Four moderate Democrats on the Banking Committee negotiated the deal with Crapo, while more progressive members of the Democratic Party say the bill goes too far.

“There are parts of it that I like. I like what it does for the credit unions, but as a package I can’t support it,” Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in an interview Thursday.

The bill’s backers are hoping that testimony by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell in support of the bill on Thursday at the Banking Committee will help ensure its passage. However, it’s not clear if the delicately negotiated deal can be expanded to include other bipartisan provisions without losing Democratic supporters.

If the bill becomes law it will mark the most substantial changes to Dodd-Frank since the financial reform law passed in 2010.

The House will still need to approve the deal. House members are likely limited in what they can add to the bill despite having an appetite to do more to overhaul financial regulations.

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