Financial CHOICE Act passes committee in face of Democratic opposition

by Ryan Smith15 Sep 2016
The House Financial Services Committee has voted to approve the Republican alternative to the Dodd-Frank Act.
The Financial CHOICE Act – which would replace the controversial Dodd-Frank – passed 30-26, largely along party lines, although one Republican, Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine, voted nay.

Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) had sharp words for the Democrats who voted to kill the bill.
“Democrats just voted against a bill that increases penalties against those who commit financial fraud,” Hensarling said. “They just voted against a bill that ends taxpayer-funded bailouts, and they just voted against legislation that provides relief from Washington’s crushing regulatory burden for small banks, credit unions and consumers.”

But Democratic committee member Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.) fired back, calling the Financial CHOICE Act a love letter to big business.

“Today is not a remedy for Dodd-Frank’s problems – it is a political talking point that does nothing to help Main Street.  It is just another attempt to help special interests while saying it’s for the little guy,” she said. “How can we even take this seriously when companies like Wells Fargo are habitually breaking the law to boost profits? We have all heard the industry complaints that Dodd-Frank ‘went too far.’  But try telling the hard-working families that were preyed upon with deceptive mortgages or hit with cascading overdraft fees that Dodd-Frank is too hard on the financial industry.” 

Hensarling has insisted that the legislation would hold Wall Street’s feet to the fire, while also bringing oversight to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Republicans say has too much power and too little accountability.
“The bill holds Wall Street accountable with the toughest, strongest, strictest penalties ever – far greater than those in Dodd-Frank,” he said.

But Velazquez maintained that the Financial CHOICE Act would hinder the work the CFPB is doing.

“CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion to 27 million consumers who have been the victims of unfair and deceptive practices,” she said. “Before Dodd-Frank, this was just ‘the cost of doing business’ with the financial sector. … The legislation before us would seriously hinder and undermine this vital work in the name of ‘choice.’ I don’t think Americans would willingly ‘choose’ to be ripped off, which is exactly what will happen again if this bill becomes law.

“…The closer you look at this bill, it’s clear to see who’s really pulling the strings – it’s not Main Street, it’s Wall Street,” she added. “Today’s bill would roll back all of our progress and is the wrong choice for consumers, small business and the economy.”
 

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