Murkowski wants exemption from consumer bureau for banks, credit unions with less than $5 billion

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is backing legislation that would exempt banks and credit unions with less than $5 billion in assets from the reach of a new consumer regulator.

The financial overhaul bill under debate in the Senate aims largely at big banks and Wall Street financial firms. A centerpiece of the bill is a new consumer protection regulator with broad power to set and enforce rules over financial products, such as home loans and credit cards.

House and Senate lawmakers have looked for ways to create a strong regulator without overly burdening smaller institutions. 

The consumer regulator would have broad power to write rules, conduct examinations and enforce statues. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) wants the regulator to have all those powers for financial firms with $10 billion in assets. For those with less than $10 billion in assets, the consumer regulator would have power to write rules, but examinations and enforcement would be left to other regulators.

Murkowski submitted an amendment that would eliminate the consumer regulator's rulemaking, examination and enforcement reach for banks and credit unions with less than $5 billion in assets. 

Credit unions and small banks have argued they had nothing to do with the financial crisis.