WASHINGTON — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo acknowledged Thursday that a broad Dodd-Frank relief package is likely out of reach, but said targeted reforms could still pass.
“In the near term, we are working to identify bills with bipartisan support that we can move quickly and put points on the board,” Crapo told an audience at the Chamber of Commerce.
The Idaho Republican has said from the onset of the new Congress that his goal as chairman will be to work closely with the lead Democrat, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. With a narrow majority in the Senate, Democrats will need to be on board for any legislation to pass through regular order.
Crapo and Brown were able to pass a series of securities bills earlier this month, which Crapo said was critical to show that there are areas where Democrats and Republicans can come to a consensus.
“We will find additional areas where we can move quickly on pieces of legislation and when we find those…we will move forward on them promptly,” Crapo said.
As far as larger regulatory changes go, however, those will likely have to come from the independent agencies, which will eventually be headed by Trump appointees.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex., has been pursuing a broader Dodd-Frank reform package that was always going to have an uphill battle in the Senate. But relations between the parties have deteriorated further since the presidential election, and the chances of any sweeping reform for financial services is dwindling. Instead, banks and credit unions hoping for regulatory relief may have to rely on narrower, one-off bills.
In recent days, Hensarling has also signaled that he may act on smaller bills.
“I am going to work closely with my Senate counterpart and I have let it be known that he if manages to produce what I might term a rifle-shot bill, we will move on the House side to meet it,” Hensarling said earlier this month.
The Texas Republican still plans to reintroduce the Choice Act and move it out of committee, but the panel will also reintroduce individual parts of the legislation that might be able to get support from both parties, rather than the larger bill whichhad no Democratic support.
“The Choice Act is our omnibus legislation, but we will also reintroduce its component bills,” Hensarling said last week.
Crapo said the speed at which legislation is able to move will be determined by other priorities, including voting on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, tax reform and another possible attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Major pieces like the housing finance reform or the economic growth proposals that we will put together in the larger packages will come in a sequence probably after tax reform,” said Crapo. He hopes that would be either late this year or early next year, he said.
But Republican lawmakers will still be able to lean on regulators to provide relief. President Trump has issued executive orders to halt new federal regulations or require regulators to repeal two rules for every new one issued.
Independent regulators are not required to follow those executive orders, but have voluntarily chosen to do so.
Crapo said that was the right call. “I personally believe the independent agencies should follow the order and seek to implement the spirit of its direction," he said.