House lawmakers on Tuesday postponed voting on changes to a sweeping GOP bill to kill Obama-era financial regulations after Democrats worked to obstruct advancement of the plan they claimed would harm Americans and rescue Wall Street.
Throughout a seven-hour House Financial Service Committee hearing, Democrats repeatedly tried to stonewall efforts by Republicans to advance a bill by committee chairman Jeb Hensarling, to the House floor.
New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney triggered a congressional procedure forcing committee staff to take turns reading the chairman’s nearly 600-page bill out loud — a process that consumed more than three hours of the hearing until it was abruptly halted.
The delay tactic prompted members of the panel to agree to delay voting on amendments to the Texas Republican’s bill, which targets scaling back the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, until tomorrow. Democrats began had introducing amendments to the chairman’s bill Tuesday.
Lawmakers were expected to continue debating amendments to the bill into the night. Committee members won’t vote on Hensarling’s bill until all amendments have been considered, which could happen later this week.
Proposed fixes by Democrats would likely target specific provisions tied to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the so-called Volcker Rule, which bans banks from taking risky bets with taxpayers’ money, they said.
Hensarling chided Democrats for their eleventh hour plans to introduce changes to the latest bill after characterizing it as “unredeemable” and “dead on arrival.” The Texas Republican noted Democrats didn’t introduce any amendments to his initial bill in the last Congress.
“It begs the question why are the minority offering amendments to a bill that they say is ‘dead on arrival’,” he said.
Republicans criticize the 2010 law as the primary driver for anemic economic growth in the U.S. — a point Democrats repeatedly refuted during the hearing, arguing there is weak evidence to back up the GOP’s claim.
“America can do better,” said Hensarling. “We shouldn’t have to settle for sub par economic growth.”
Massachusetts Democrat, Michael Capuano, said no one — on either side of the aisle – wants weak economic growth for the country, but that measured steps should be taken to safeguard the financial system and to avoid triggering another crisis.
“I will take 2% growth over the 2008 recession any day of the week,” said Capuano.
During the hearing, Democrats blasted the GOP plan as “immoral,” calling it “poisonous” and “a deeply misguided” piece of legislation that would only bring harm to consumers and weaken the U.S. financial system.
“The bill is rotten to the core, and simply carries water for Trump and his buddies on Wall Street,” said Maxine Waters, a top Democrat on the panel.
At the outset of the hearing, Maloney said the bill would take the American financial system back to the “regulatory Stone Age, adding it is a “middle finger to consumers, regulators, investors and the market,” which drew soft gasps from Republican lawmakers in the hearing room.
Republican lawmakers rushed to rebuke Democrat’s statements on the bill, referring to them as “hyperbole.”
“The real middle finger to the American people is the lack of recovery because of Dodd-Frank,” said Bill Huizenga of Michigan. He said small businesses have been “stuck between surviving and growing” without access to liquidity in the market.
GOP lawmakers blame the 2010 law for placing too many regulations on the banks. They say the reforms have choked U.S. economic growth and having crimped lending to U.S. businesses.
French Hill, a Republican lawmaker from Arkansas, said Hensarling’s bill is “not about deregulation, but about rightsizing regulation.” He said there’s a number of areas that Dodd-Frank didn’t get right, especially for community banks.
Capuano challenged Hensarling to trim down his bill to focus simply on offering regulatory relief for community banks, which he said would get immediate support from Democrats. “That would pass in 15 minutes, if you’ll propose it,” he said.