WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday examining regulatory relief for small banks and credit unions, kicking off what is expected to be a central debate this term over changes to the Dodd-Frank Act.

President Obama has vowed several times this year to fight major rollbacks of the financial reform law, so a key question for Republicans now controlling Congress is what tweaks might be able to win bipartisan support along with approval by the White House. Given the ongoing backlash against some of the country's biggest banks, relief for smaller financial institutions is likely to be key to any Dodd-Frank legislation this term.

"If the legislative package includes provisions striking at the core of the law, or is seen as benefiting the nation's largest banks, then the path to passage will be put in peril," Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading, wrote in a note to clients Wednesday morning about the upcoming hearing.

Lawmakers will hear from regulators at the financial agencies: Toney Bland, senior deputy comptroller for midsize and community bank supervision at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; Doreen Eberley, director of risk management supervision at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; Larry Fazio, director of the office of examination and insurance at the National Credit Union Administration; Candace Franks, commissioner of the Arkansas State Bank Department on behalf of the Conference of Bank Supervisors; and Maryann Hunter, deputy director of the division of banking supervision and regulation at the Federal Reserve.

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