House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is expected to announce legislation meant to replace the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law by the end of the month, members of the committee learned Tuesday.
The bill would be an update of a sweeping package the Texas Republican introduced last year, the Financial Choice Act, which would have eased the rules that apply to banks if they choose to maintain much higher capital.
This year's version, Choice 2.0, will include several significant changes but be no less ambitious, according to a list of changes circulated to lawmakers Tuesday.
"Chairman Hensarling looks forward to working with the president and his administration to eliminate Dodd-Frank and replace it with the Financial Choice Act," said committee spokeswoman Sarah Rozier. "Our plan, which will be released in the next few weeks, is a bold and visionary plan that protects consumers by holding Wall Street and Washington accountable, ends bailouts, and unleashes America's economic potential."
The updated legislation comes just hours after President Trump said that the 2010 financial reform law signed by former President Barack Obama should be largely eliminated.
Some of the biggest changes to this year's version of the bill apply to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency overseeing financial products such as mortgages and credit cards criticized by Republicans. While last year's bill would have replaced the bureau's single director with a five-member, bipartisan commission, this year's legislation would simply allow the president to fire the director for any reason. The agency also would see its powers trimmed to an enforcement role.
Under the updated legislation, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency also would be removable at the president's will. The agency has control of the bailed-out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and currently is led by an appointee and former House Democrat, Mel Watt.
Another noteworthy addition to the bill would be that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation would be removed from judging big banks' living wills, the documents they provide spelling out in advance how they would pay out creditors and go bankrupt in the case of a failure. In recent years, the FDIC has been viewed as a more demanding judge of the living wills. But in the GOP legislation, the FDIC-led government option for taking over failing banks would be removed, and accordingly the FDIC will no longer review living wills.
One entirely new provision is that bank settlements with regulators could no longer include provisions steering funds to third-party groups. Republicans have objected to crisis-era settlements that diverted funds to legal aid nonprofits, housing counseling agencies, and other groups that conservatives have criticized as liberal-aligned interests.