ABA-Backed Reg Reform Bill Clears Senate Committee

The regulatory reform bill introduced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) was approved by the committee today. The ABA-supported bill would provide regulatory relief for community, mid-size and regional banks, tailor the regulatory structure for systemically important banks and begin restructuring within the Federal Reserve System and at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Although the bill cleared the committee on a 12-10 party-line vote, statements from committee leaders pointed to further negotiations on elements of the bill, including the asset threshold for systemically important banks. The bill keeps the $50 billion threshold in place, but changes the process the regulators use to make the determination for institutions below $500 billion and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) signaled that he would support a higher designation level than today’s $50 billion.

ABA President and CEO Frank Keating welcomed the bill’s advance. “This bill is a significant step toward removing many of the statutory and regulatory barriers that constrain banks’ ability to serve their customers and meet the needs of their local communities,” he said. “We firmly believe that common ground exists for financial reform in this Congress. We need to seize it and move ahead together for the sake of our customers and the broader economy.”

The bill’s regulatory relief provisions include nearly two dozen measures that are part of ABA’s Agenda for America’s Hometown Banks, many of which have been introduced as standalone measures or in other relief packages in both houses of Congress. During the committee vote, members also approved ABA supported amendments that would bar regulators from participating in the Justice Department’s Operation Choke Point initiative and that would raise the asset threshold for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau supervision from $10 billion to $50 billion. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) joined the panel’s Republicans in voting for the amendments.