Chamber makes final push to upend 'Volcker Rule'

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is making one last push to scrap the “Volcker Rule,” a contentious provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that is close to the finish line.

With regulators reportedly within weeks of finalizing rules that have taken years to draft, the nation’s largest business lobby fired off a letter Thursday calling for regulators to return to the drawing board and give industry another chance to offer input and critiques.

The Chamber, along with other business and financial industry groups, have long been critical of the Volcker Rule, which is aimed at curbing risky trading activities by banks in search of profit. And with regulators nearing a final rule, the Chamber is making a final effort to slow that work and put it in reverse.

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In their letter, the Chamber, via its Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, argues that regulators could not craft a satisfactory final rule if it got its beginning in the proposed rule regulators offered back in 2011.

“The Volcker Rule, as proposed, will have far reaching, negative consequences,” the group wrote. “The CCMC does not see how these concerns can be addressed by any final rule that is a logical outgrowth of the proposed rule that regulators published for comment.”

Instead, the Chamber called for regulators to re-propose Volcker Rule regulations before they are finalized, giving industry and other interested parties another chance to weigh in on any perceived shortcomings.

The Volcker Rule has long been one of the more hotly contested pieces of Dodd-Frank, as industry groups and Republicans argue that the rule could impose overly burdensome restrictions on banking and business activity and bury institutions in overly complex regulations, with some arguing the entire premise of the provision could be unworkable.

Meanwhile, advocates for tougher rules for Wall Street have pushed regulators to hold firm on a strict implementation of the rule, arguing that the financial crisis proved the need to bar financial institutions from engaging in risky speculative trades that could endanger the entire financial system. The rule is named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who also served as an economic adviser under President Obama.

Regulators have given themselves until the end of the year to finalize the rules that have been years in the making. Mary Miller, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for domestic finance, said at a Bloomberg event Wednesday she was “very heartened” by recent progress and still hoped to produce a final rule by year’s end.