Finance

Hensarling says he's not holding talks on Senate banking bill

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said he's not holding talks with key senators on making changes to a banking bill set to pass the Senate this week.

The Senate bill faces opposition from House conservatives who want the measure to include more input from the lower chamber. 

K Street sources told The Hill that the bill faces a growing chance of dying in the House unless senators agree to go to a conference with the House.

Hensarling said he expects a conference to be formed, and repeated his call for the Senate to include in its legislation some of the more than two dozen bills his committee passed with bipartisan support. 

A spokeswoman for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) declined to comment on whether he'd be willing to conference with the House.

House conservatives have long been skeptical of the Senate package, which they say doesn't go far enough to rein in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

While they've warmed to striking a deal with the Senate, they've insisted on adding more of their own measures to the legislation.

The Senate voted Monday to advance a series of changes to its package, sponsored by Crapo, that would add eight House bills sought by Hensarling. All passed the Financial Services Committee with bipartisan support, and seek to help businesses raise capital by loosening securities laws.

But Hensarling said the amendment, released Wednesday, didn't go far enough.

"Those bills that get bipartisan support, we expect to be in the final package," Hensarling said last week, referring to other legislation approved by the House. "I don't know any other way to put it."

In the Senate, a bipartisan group of senators backing the bill has warned the House against making major changes after the measure clears the Senate. The measure is currently supported by 13 Senate Democrats, but could lose their support if the overall bill tilts to the right.

"We don't believe that would be helpful, to go to conference," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), last week. "What we have and what we've negotiated here is very good package."

Financial industry sources and lobbyists involved in talks over the Senate bill say the growing tensions between the chambers could derail the bill before it reaches the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed a motion to end debate on the measure on Thursday, narrowing the window for possible changes.

The Senate will vote to adopt the substitute amendment and end debate on the bill on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m.

A K Street source backing the Senate bill told The Hill that House conservatives were taken aback by McConnell's procedural move, and saw it as a pressure tactic to bring the House in line. 

Senate Democrats backing the bill said they expect the House to pass the bill without major changes given the shrinking timeframe to pass a major Dodd-Frank overhaul.

"There are some out there who say 'this bill is going to look completely different when it comes back from the House.' It may. If it does, than I guess we're done," said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) who backs the bill, last week.

"I believe we have the White House's support on it. And hopefully they'll influence the House not to screw it up."

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), another bill sponsor, added "If we go to a completely different bill in the House, what you're actually ensuring is that nothing will happen."

Updated at 8:11 p.m.

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