A top Republican lawmaker told bankers Wednesday that Congress would seek "rifle-shot" changes to President Obama's financial reform law, even while acknowledging that the sweeping overhaul of Dodd-Frank the GOP had hoped for would struggle to pass the Senate.
Noting that Democrats have the ability to block all-in-one regulatory relief legislation in the Senate, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling said that if "a rifle-shot bill" clears the Senate, "we will move on the House side to meet it."
Speaking at the American Bankers Association summit in Washington, Hensarling told the bankers to keep hope alive for a legislative package, the Financial Choice Act, he is planning to replace Dodd-Frank, saying that he would reintroduce it.
Hensarling noted, however, that the bill faces obstacles to passage in the Senate, citing opposition from Democratic senators "intimidated by their political base."
Those Democrats would have the ability to filibuster legislation, meaning that the 52 Republican votes in the Senate wouldn't be enough to pass it.
On Wednesday, Hensarling identified ways that regulatory relief measures might be enacted despite the threat of a Democratic filibuster. Some part of the Choice Act, he said, may be able to make it to President Trump's desk through the budget procedure known as reconciliation, which allows legislation to pass with only 51 votes.
He also said that he will introduce "components" of the Choice Act as standalone legislation in the hope that those bills could pass.
The Choice Act, previously introduced last Congress and being revamped now, aimed to reduce a wide range of regulations for banks that choose to maintain high levels of capital. But it contained a number of provisions that could be broken out, touching mortage regulation, the Federal Reserve, restrictions on bank trading, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Hensarling referred to as a "tyranny."
Also, Hensarling added, deregulation could be achieved through executive action by the Trump administration. He's been "highly encouraged" by conversations with the Trump team.