Nichols’ Hill Op-Ed Applauds Bipartisan Work on Reg Reform

In an op-ed in The Hill today, American Bankers Association President and CEO Rob Nichols saluted the efforts of a bipartisan group of legislators that co-sponsored S. 2155, a regulatory reform bill that could see a vote on the Senate floor as early as this week. Nichols noted that the bill — which was championed by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) — “is the byproduct of years of hearings, input from hundreds of stakeholders and careful negotiations between senators of different parties who refused to let a serious problem go unresolved.”

Nichols emphasized that the bill does not constitute a “rollback” of the Dodd-Frank Act, as some critics in the Senate have claimed, but rather makes “targeted, surgical reforms” that will allow more creditworthy borrowers to gain access to credit to finance their homes and small businesses. In addition, many of the federal banking regulators — including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell — have publicly announced their support for several of the bill’s provisions, he added.

“At a time when Washington can’t agree on much of anything, this bill represents the kind of balanced, bipartisan collaboration that Americans elected members of Congress to produce,” Nichols said. “It’s a sensible first step towards right-sizing rules that are holding the economy back from achieving its full potential.”

While the bill provides much-needed regulatory relief, Nichols raised concerns that it continues to rely too heavily on arbitrary asset thresholds, noting that “these asset thresholds have no rational connection to systemic risk, and in fact they create artificial and arbitrary barriers to growth.” ABA has long supported transitioning to a tailored, risk-based approach to regulation.