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One of the very first bills Republicans proposed on the first day of this congress called for repealing the financial overhaul law that had been passed the year before. But since then, the Republican bill has languished, which does not mean Republicans are giving up. The GOP's latest plan, as NPR's Audie Cornish reports, is what detractors call death by a thousand cuts.
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AUDIE CORNISH: Republican Nan Hayworth is a Tea Party-backed freshman from New York. She's had to dial back expectations that the Wall Street law would be taken down in the House the way the new health care law was.
NAN HAYWORTH: The more we depower, defund Dodd-Frank, the better. But we're doing so in a way that we feel will have the greatest results within the time frame of the 112th Congress.
CORNISH: Instead, Republicans are trying to retool the new law - even the parts of it that haven't hit the books yet, says co-author Barney Frank, the committee's ranking Democrat.
BARNEY FRANK: They recognize that the financial reform is more popular. So with health care, they just did a flat-out repeal, and they also offered budget amendments. With the financial reform, they're trying to nibble it to death.
CORNISH: And now is as good a time as any, as many of the law's regulations are still unwritten.
FRANK: They're able to do it - they think, I don't think they'll get away with it - because attention is focused on the debt and on health care. They're trying to do this beneath the radar screen.
CORNISH: Freshman Republican Sean Duffy of Wisconsin is among those proposing what he calls tweaks to the law. His proposal would make it easier to override rules written by the new consumer bureau.
SEAN DUFFY: I get concerned when I see regulation after regulation. We just pile it on and we don't have a comprehensive review on to see what impact does all of these massive rules have on our banking system.
CORNISH: Of course, Democrats such as Minnesota's Keith Ellison don't see it that way.
KEITH ELLISON: If the rules were firmly in place, then we would know whether or not the legislation or the rule needs to be, quote, unquote, "tweaked." We don't know that yet, I mean, because all this stuff is being fashioned now.
CORNISH: But there's no appetite in the Democrat-led Senate to take them up, according to Senator Mark Warner, a member of the Banking Committee.
MARK WARNER: I think there are areas in Dodd-Frank that could stand tweakings, but the concern I think here on the Senate side is that we don't want to re-litigate the whole issue. And if you open up one of these bills, then you don't know what might end up coming back.
CORNISH: Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capitol.
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