WASHINGTON — Key Senate Republicans on Thursday sought to scrap a proposal in the financial bill that would prevent clearinghouses and banks that deal in swaps from being eligible for federal financial assistance.
Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Republican Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., along with Senate Banking Committee members Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., hope their amendment to strike the measure from the broader bill will be considered as the U.S. Senate continues to debate and vote on amendments to the sweeping financial overhaul.
"Our amendment simply strikes a provision that creates obstacles for those who use swaps to manage their business risks and as such need access to well-capitalized counterparties," Chambliss said in a statement. "This is just another example of how many provisions in the underlying bill overreach and cause unintended hardships on businesses that had nothing to do with the collapse of the financial markets."
The provision they are seeking to remove from the bill was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee. It would force banks that deal in swaps to spin off their swap desks into an affiliate if they wish to receive access to the Federal Reserve's discount borrowing window or receive deposit insurance through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It would also ban clearinghouses from having access to the discount window.
Wall Street firms, clearinghouses and even the FDIC and the Fed have risen in strong opposition to the measure. On Wednesday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor defending the measure and accusing Republicans and Wall Street of spreading false information about its impact.
Chambliss, Gregg and Senate Banking Committee Ranking Republican Richard Shelby, R-Ala., have also separately filed an amendment that would replace the Democrats' entire section in the bill on derivatives with their own proposal.
Their proposal is similar in that it would also bolster reporting for swaps and require many of them to be routed to clearinghouses, which guarantee trades. But their plan stops short of forcing products onto trading platforms and it also grants broader regulatory exemptions for certain contracts and for market players seeking to hedge their risks.