Tester Says Senate Banking Committee Close on Bank Relief Bill

By Jeff Bater

Senate Banking Committee members are “getting very close” to agreeing on a bill to offer regulatory relief to financial institutions and should “have something by tomorrow,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said.Some committee Democrats are talking with Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and are trying to “come up with something that helps community banks,” Tester said Nov. 7.“Hopefully, we’ll have something by tomorrow,” Tester said. “It ain’t over until it’s over so I can’t really tell you what’s in it or what’s not in it for sure until we’re done. But hopefully we’ll end up with something that we get 60 votes for and that will help keep capital in rural areas.”Tester is one of a handful of moderate Senate Democrats from states President Donald Trump won last November who could be pivotal as Republicans look for an alternative path on banking legislation.

Tester has advocated reducing stress test requirements for some midsize banks. Lenders with assets of $10 billion and up are required by the Dodd-Frank Act to run stress tests on their balance sheets. Along with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), he offered a bill (S. 1139) in May to raise the asset threshold on the Dodd-Frank tests to $50 billion.

Impact of Rules

Bipartisan negotiations between Crapo and the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), broke off last week. Asked Nov. 7 about the breakdown, Brown said he was hopeful lawmakers from both sides “can find a path forward.”

“Crapo’s got to get 60 votes,” Brown said. “The Democrats have leverage to get a good bill still.”

The ranking member noted that committee members have agreed on policy changes in the past, such as targeted regulatory relief for small banks. But wholesale changes to Dodd-Frank remain a non-starter.

“Chairman Crapo has got to understand that Democrats aren’t going to allow major rollbacks to Dodd-Frank,” Brown said. “There’s this collective amnesia around here that nothing bad happened to the economy and to the banking system 10 years ago.”

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at MFerullo@bna.com

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