Mulvaney Backs House Efforts to Alter Senate Bank Relief Bill

By Jeff Bater

Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney said he supports House Republican efforts to amend a Senate bank regulatory relief bill that many in the industry want President Donald Trump to sign immediately.

Mulvaney praised the Senate bill during an appearance April 11 before the House Financial Services Committee, calling it “a great fallback.”

“But if it can get better, why wouldn’t we accept that as a really good outcome?” he said.

Mulvaney’s remarks added a spark to a simmering conflict between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over how to bring post-crisis regulatory relief to the banking industry.

The Senate passed a bill ( S. 2155) in March — with the support of 16 moderate Senate Democrats and one independent — that would reduce Dodd-Frank Act regulations on community banks and significantly lower the number of regional banks subjected to tighter capital and other rules. The Senate legislation does not address more divisive issues such as regulation of Wall Street banks and changes to the CFPB’s structure, mission, and funding.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) wants to add provisions to the Senate bill, including a number of House bills that have passed the lower chamber with significant bipartisan support. Moderate Senate Democrats are resisting changes to the Senate package.

House Urged to Pass Senate Version

The American Bankers Association sent a letter April 9 urging the House to pass the Senate’s targeted relief package for small and midsize banks. “While we fully support the Senate acting on Chairman Hensarling’s and other House proposals in future measures, we believe now is the time to get S. 2155 to the president’s desk for his signature,” the letter said.

At an event in West Virginia April 5, President Trump said efforts to revamp Dodd-Frank should be done “fairly quickly.”

The House passed a broad rollback ( H.R. 10) of Dodd-Frank last year, but only with Republican support. The bill included provisions to reduce the CFPB’s supervisory and enforcement powers, prevent publication of its consumer complaint database, bring it under congressional appropriations, and make its director removable at will by the president.

Mulvaney told the House Financial Services Committee April 11 he welcomes “any efforts to reform as much of Dodd-Frank, especially the parts that pertain to the bureau, as you possibly can.”

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting didn’t take sides in the House-Senate dispute during an April 9 gathering of the Independent Community Bankers of America, but he stressed the importance of getting a bill to the president’s desk. “This is a monumental change in our ability to influence regulation,” he said.

Mulvaney was appearing before the House panel as part of the semiannual report the bureau is required to make to Congress. The acting head of the CFPB is scheduled to appear April 12 before the Senate Banking Committee, where he is expected to be questioned closely by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Warren and Mulvaney have traded several sharply worded letters in recent months over Mulvaney’s leadership of the bureau Warren helped create.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bater in Washington at jbater@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at mferullo@bloomberglaw.com

Copyright © 2018 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.