House passes bill requiring more frequent reviews of financial regulations

House passes bill requiring more frequent reviews of financial regulations
© Greg Nash

The House on Tuesday easily approved a bipartisan bill requiring financial regulators to more frequently conduct comprehensive reviews of their banking regulations.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s (R-Ga.) Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act passed by a 264-143 vote, which included the support of 38 Democrats. 

The legislation amends the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act to require the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and each federal financial agency to conduct a regulatory review every seven years.

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The 1996 law only requires financial agencies to conduct regulatory reviews every 10 years and exempts agencies such as the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Credit Union Administration from the required reviews.

Under the new legislation, agencies would be required to tailor regulations in an effort to reduce burdens on covered entities, including the cost of regulatory compliance and liability risk. 

Loudermilk touted the bill as a simple and common-sense measure to reduce the burdens of what he calls outdated and unnecessary red tape placed on small banks and lending institutions. 

“This bill does not require the agencies to cut regulations with a broad brush as it has been presented so far,” he said. “Nor does it cut regulations on the payday lending industry as some have argued. It simply states the rules will be adjusted based on a company’s risk if the regulators determine that to be appropriate.”

But some Democrats fought back against the bill, with Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersTrump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (D-Calif.) arguing that Republicans are inaccurately portraying the legislation as a boon for small and community banks.

“They fail to talk about the major financial institutions … that are also the beneficiaries also of the deregulatory effort that is being put forth,” she said.

Waters argued the legislation will actually make it harder for financial agencies to supervise their regulated entities and enforce the finance laws.

“This bill is intended to dismantle rules deemed inconvenient by the financial services industry,” she said.

“If this bill were enacted financial services regulators would be forced to spend more time and resources on backward looking reviews and deregulating the financial services industry rather than strengthening protections for consumers and the economy,” she said.

Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerDems vow rules overhaul to empower members if House flips Problem Solvers Caucus has a vision: a bipartisan House Bipartisan group of lawmakers seeks rules changes under next Speaker MORE (D-N.J.), who co-sponsored the bill along with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), urged his colleagues to support the measure, arguing that unnecessary and burdensome regulations have hurt economic growth.

“We need a smarter, more efficient government,” he said. “It is time to relieve these unnecessary burdens and spur business job growth and access to credit in New Jersey’s 5th District and across the country.”

But Waters noted that banks have made record profits in 2016 and will make billions more as a result of the Republican tax plan that passed last year. The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. banking industry’s net income in 2016 was a record $171.3 billion.

“So when my friends on the opposite side of the aisle continue to talk about how the banks are suffering, I don’t know who they’re talking about,” Waters said.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the law would increase direct spending by $3 million over the 2018-2027 period.