WASHINGTON — The House Financial Services Committee approved a series of bills Wednesday morning that would remove a key Dodd-Frank provision and amend the structure of the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
The closely watched Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., which would do away with the $50 billion threshold for heightened bank standards, passed the committee 39-16. The bill would instead require regulators to use a series of qualitative measures like interconnectedness to evaluate a bank's risk to the system, instead of size alone, in setting tougher rules.
"The reform bills approved by the committee today will help build a healthier economy for all Americans and put in place needed transparency, accountability and checks and balances on powerful bureaucracies," Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said in a statement after the vote.
The banking panel voted down an amendment by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., that would maintain the $50 billion line but require regulators to do more to tailor capital standards and other rules for less risky banks. The amendment lost 33-21, but analysts have suggested that the measure could serve as a model for compromise on the issue going forward, should the bill gain traction.
Lawmakers also voted in favor of a handful of bills aimed at the FSOC, the interagency group of regulators charged with monitoring systemic risk. A measure to subject the FSOC to the congressional appropriations process split the committee down party lines, 33-24, as did a measure that would open up the council to all members of a participating agency commission or board, instead of just the chair.
A bill creating new requirements for the council when naming certain nonbanks as systemically important passed by a vote of 44-12, and a bill requiring the FSOC's Office of Financial Research to make public detailed work plans and better protect its data was approved 35-22. Legislation that would put on hold any nonbank designations until the Federal Reserve has released prudential standards for those institutions passed 33-24.
Both the Luetkemeyer bill and the FSOC changes face long odds for being enacted into law, with many Democrats, including the White House, strongly critical of the provisions. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Hensarling on Monday criticizing the legislation.
Meanwhile, the committee also approved legislation that limits federal regulators from moving the assets of state-regulated insurers in certain cases; allows federal thrifts to be regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency with the same rights and duties as national banks; addresses the treatment of certain municipal securities; and updates the regulation of business development companies.