Lawmakers Discuss Reg Relief Common Ground, Spar on Rhetoric

Passing major regulatory relief for banks is going to be a heavy lift in 2016, according to a bipartisan panel of legislators at ABA’s Government Relations Summit, although the lawmakers emphasized their efforts to find common ground on regulatory reform.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) said passing reg relief this year would be “difficult” and that the GOP-led House would pass bills this year laying out “our vision of financial services reform in 2017” should Republicans hold Congress and gain the presidency.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who was part of negotiations on the Senate Banking Committee over reg relief last year, remained confident that “we can find that sweet spot…to get reg relief for relationship banking.” Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) also saw the possibility for common ground on limited reg relief measures. “Dodd-Frank isn’t going anywhere,” he said, but he was optimistic about measures to help “on the margin, where it can really make a difference for some smaller institutions.”

The panelists sparred somewhat over how to talk about congressional inaction on reg relief. Heitkamp urged bankers not to frame their message around political personalities. “When you make this about personalities, you’re playing into the hands of people who don’t want to get anything done,” she said. “Do not make this about personalities. You will lose.”