Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo announced Monday that he had reached a deal with Democrats on legislation that would ease rules for banks, the centerpiece of which would be raising the size threshold at which banks receive extra scrutiny from regulators.
The agreement would increase the cutoff from $50 billion in assets, a line set in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, to $250 billion, lowering regulatory burdens on some regional banks that are larger than community banks but not as big as Wall Street megabanks.
The legislation, which is still being drafted, would be a far cry from the sweeping changes to post-crisis banking laws sought by President Trump and congressional conservatives. Plans for such a partisan attack on the Obama-era rules have been delayed by the GOP's failure on healthcare and its pursuit of tax reform.
"The bipartisan proposals on which we have agreed will significantly improve our financial regulatory framework and foster economic growth by right-sizing regulation, particularly for smaller financial institutions and community banks," Crapo said
Nine Democrats had signed onto the deal, according to the Idaho Republican, including ones up for re-election in red states, such as Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. With nine Democratic votes and all Republicans, the package could overcome a filibuster.
Crapo began talks this year with his Democratic counterpart on the panel, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. But on Monday, Brown outlined his opposition to the deal. "I understand my colleagues’ interest in agreeing to this legislation, but disagree on the wisdom of rolling back so many of Dodd-Frank’s protections with almost no gains for working families," he said.
The relief measure also contains a grab-bag of smaller regulatory relief provisions. One would exempt some community banks from the Volcker Rule, a restriction that prevents banks from speculating with deposits insured by the federal government. Another would loosen part of a rule meant to ensure that stressed banks can free up cash, changing it to lower borrowing costs for cities.