House panel to hold hearing on sweeping Dodd-Frank rewrite

House panel to hold hearing on sweeping Dodd-Frank rewrite
© Moriah Ratner

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on April 26 to consider Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Texas) sweeping rewrite of post-recession financial regulation.

The committee will discuss Hensarling’s CHOICE Act, a reboot of a law he introduced last year laying out Republican priorities for replacing major parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, during the hearing.

Republicans have long sought to rollback Dodd-Frank’s tougher standards and penalties for banks, and have a chance to do so with President Trump, who promised to “dismantle” the law.

While GOP lawmakers once called for a total repeal of Dodd-Frank, Republicans lack a large enough majority to do so on their own. Democrats have fiercely defended the law and could sink full repeal efforts with a filibuster.

Many banks also oppose a full repeal. Though some major financial institutions say Dodd-Frank hampers economic growth, they’ve already spent years and billions of dollars building their businesses around the law.

ADVERTISEMENT
Instead, the CHOICE Act would eliminate many key provisions of Dodd-Frank, while making others almost unrecognizable. Lawmakers, analysts and lobbyists say it’s unlikely to make it out of the House, let alone onto Trump’s desk, given the sweeping and conservative nature of the changes.

The bill would eliminate the “too big to fail” label that's applied to big banks and firms deemed “systemically important financial institutions" that could trigger an economic crisis upon collapsing. That label subjects firms to tougher federal oversight and regulation, but connects them to a process used to deconstruct the financial titans in a way that wouldn’t shake the economy.

Republicans say "too big to fail" is applied in arbitrary and inconsistent ways, and makes firms entitled to a taxpayer-funded bailout. The bill instead creates a new bankruptcy process for banks.

The new bill would also substantially change how federal regulators monitor the largest banks and financial firms. Such firms would only have to submit to federal stress tests once every two years instead of annually, and would have to do an internal stress test each year.

Hensarling’s bill would also significantly reduce the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and subject it to greater oversight from the White House and Congress.

The CFPB would lose its independent agency status, and its director would be fireable at will by the president. The president would also appoint and remove a deputy director, and the new bureau would be limited to enforcing current laws, losing its power to crack down on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” The bureau’s budget would also be controlled by Congress, rather than funded through the Federal Reserve.