Latest fight over 'Volcker rule' a matter of timing

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In a letter sent to regulators charged with writing the rule, top Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee called for that deadline to be pushed back by a month — in part because some regulators could not make the original Dec. 13 date.

The lawmakers, led by Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said in the letter that they were "deeply disappointed" that some regulators could not make the hearing, especially because the current proposals "are not clear and need more work."

As a result of those absences, the lawmakers pushed back the hearing to Jan. 18 — after the end of the comment period. 

Given the delay, they also called for that deadline to be pushed back by a month.

"The implementation of the Volcker Rule is too important an issue to rush, and members of Congress need an opportunity to provide input," they wrote.

In November, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told regulators they should scrap the original proposal and allow the public to comment on a new one for nearly three times longer than the typical 60-day window for regulations.

However, advocates for tough Wall Street reform are pushing back. Better Markets, a Wall Street reform group, wrote to regulators Monday telling them to resist financial industry pressure and keep to the current schedule. Pushing back the deadline puts the nation at risk of another "financial catastrophe" by keeping this "key part" of Dodd-Frank unrealized. Any industry concerns about complexity of the rule should be outweighed by that threat, the group argued.

"The Volcker Rule, combined with other regulations, is an essential measure to stop large, too-big-to-fail banks from making huge, highly leveraged, swing-for-the-fences bets to juice their bonuses, while shifting the risk of catastrophic loss to the public," wrote Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of the group. "The industry's relentless effort to derail or delay this rule must be rejected."

The provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, prohibits banks from trading for their own profit and not at the behest of clients, known as proprietary trading. It also limits banks' relationships with hedge funds and private equity funds in an attempt to isolate them from riskier parts of the financial market.

In October, regulators offered up a dense proposal, spanning hundreds of pages, that posed hundreds of questions to the public on areas they were still trying to figure out.