Congress Rolls Back Part Of Dodd-Frank, Easing Rules For Midsize, Smaller Banks : The Two-Way The House gave final passage to a bill that would allow banks with up to $250 billion in assets to escape some of the toughest regulations under the 2010 law meant to shore up the financial system.
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Congress Rolls Back Part Of Dodd-Frank, Easing Rules For Midsize, Smaller Banks

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Congress Rolls Back Part Of Dodd-Frank, Easing Rules For Midsize, Smaller Banks

Congress Rolls Back Part Of Dodd-Frank, Easing Rules For Midsize, Smaller Banks

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/613390275/613597075" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The House passed a rollback of banking regulations yesterday. These are some of the Dodd-Frank rules meant to prevent a repeat of some of the worst abuses of the financial crisis. The White House says President Trump is expected to sign this bill into law as soon as possible. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Many Democrats were not happy about this bill, which loosens regulations just a decade after reckless lending and investing by financial firms sent the country into the worst housing crash and recession in generations.

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KEITH ELLISON: Some of my colleagues may have forgotten about the bad, bad days of that crash in 2008.

ARNOLD: Democrat Keith Ellison of Minnesota spoke out against the bill on the House floor.

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ELLISON: Millions of people lost their homes. Two point six trillion - with a T - vanished from people's retirement accounts. Why on earth would we go back there?

ARNOLD: But Republicans say the Dodd-Frank rules went too far and hurt smaller banks, the ones that are not a risk to the financial system or too big to fail. Jeb Hensarling chairs the House Financial Services Committee.

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JEB HENSARLING: The Main Street banks and credit unions that people depend on - they've been suffering. They've been suffering for years under the cost of heavy Washington bureaucratic red tape.

ARNOLD: In order to get the bill passed through both the House and Senate, though, some Democrats had to be willing to cross the aisle and vote for it. And given that, the changes are not as dramatic as they could have been. That's according to the man whose name is on the Dodd-Frank law, former Representative Barney Frank. He says this new bill goes a bit too far in loosening regulations but...

BARNEY FRANK: Not much too far - I would vote against it if I were there.

ARNOLD: But Frank says he actually supports parts of the bill. For one thing, he says it gives small banks a free pass from rules that block certain kinds of risky investments. Frank says banks with less than $10 billion in assets don't really do that kind of trading anyway. But the law creates headaches for them.

FRANK: It turns out their lawyers tell them they've got to be super careful. They're wasting a lot of money proving they don't do what we know they don't do. So I'm happy to get that one done.

ARNOLD: Frank says, though he has two big problems with the bill, right now banks with at least $50 billion in assets have to deal with lots of tests and rules and reporting to make sure that they don't collapse and threaten the financial system. This new bill lets many banks escape all that. Financial firms like SunTrust and American Express could avoid the tougher rules because now those rules won't kick in unless a bank has $250 billion in assets.

FRANK: Two-fifty is too much. One $250 billion failing will almost certainly not be a problem. But if two - certainly if three fail, that would be a problem.

ARNOLD: The other part of this that he doesn't like is that the bill weakens reporting requirements aimed at detecting and preventing racial discrimination in lending. Consumer watchdog groups have other problems with the new bill. Marcus Stanley is with Americans for Financial Reform.

MARCUS STANLEY: This bill really does so many deregulatory things. It prevents risk controls on commercial real estate lending. It also eliminates consumer protections for people selling mobile homes to poor families all over the country.

ARNOLD: But Barney Frank says the most fundamental parts of his signature Dodd-Frank Act remain intact, its biggest protections for consumers and the whole financial system. And he says this bill fixes the problems that even some Democrats wanted to fix. So he says Republicans have used all the political gunpowder they had in this one bill. And that means they won't be able to come back later and pass more drastic changes.

Chris Arnold, NPR News.

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