Doug Sword

Senate Banking Advances Powell Nomination for Fed Chairman
Sen. Elizabeth Warren only senator to vote against recommendation

The Senate Banking Committee voted 22-1 Tuesday to recommend confirmation of Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted against the recommendation.

Powell received the support of Chairman Michael D. Crapo, who had voted against him during his renomination to the Fed board in 2014.

Garrett’s Jabs at Export-Import Bank May Stop His Bid to Lead It
The former N.J. congressman once voted against reauthorizing the bank

Former New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett faces an unusual combination of Democrats and business groups opposing his nomination to lead the Export-Import Bank as the Senate hearing on his confirmation approaches.

Garrett, who lost his bid for re-election in 2016, is part of the wing of the Republican Party that sees the Ex-Im Bank’s loan, insurance and guarantee programs as corporate welfare that mainly benefits large companies. He was a founding member of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus. 

At Equifax Hearings, Senators Complain of Deja Vu
It’s ‘long past time’ Congress set standards for data security, Grassley says

Senate Judiciary Committee members voiced exasperation about holding another hearing on whether consumers’ personal information is secure as Richard Smith, the former CEO of Equifax, made his third congressional appearance in two days to explain a security breach that allowed hackers to gain access to personal data — names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license information — on more than 145 million consumers. 

Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said Wednesday that it is “long past time” that Congress set standards for data security, adding that he was “committed to getting a good bill ... over the finish line.”

Democrats Exclude CFPB in Faulting Regulators of Wells Fargo
Currency comptroller, Federal Reserve and FDIC criticized

A House Democratic report on Wells Fargo’s fraudulent creation of millions of bank and credit card accounts faulted the oversight of regulators including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

But the report released Friday by Democratic staff on the House Financial Services Committee didn’t blame the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for flaws in the investigation or enforcement at Wells Fargo, the nation’s second-largest bank by market capitalization.

Military Groups Join Democrats’ Defense of Arbitration Rule
‘We will not accept a future where our military veterans’ financial protections are chipped away’

Service member and veterans groups on Wednesday criticized a Republican effort to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule barring mandatory arbitration in many consumer contracts. 

The groups joined Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, to oppose Senate Republicans’ plan to pass a measure that would repeal the CFPB rule. The rule took effect Monday, but the agency is giving companies until March 2018 to comply.

Lawmakers Push Broad Review of Equifax Security
Democrats cite precedence of reaction to OPM data breach

Lawmakers are responding to credit-reporting company Equifax’s loss of data on up to 143 million customers with a flurry of proposed legislation, demands for explanations, hearings and calls for regulators to investigate.

Democrats are leading the charge on legislation and investigations while Republicans join in with demands for an explanation from the company and with plans to hold hearings. Members of both parties are seeking details of Equifax’s work for government agencies. Democrats are also trying to pressure Republicans to be at least as tough on Equifax as they were with a government agency that suffered its own breach.

Crapo Not Committed to Banking Hearing on Equifax Breach
Chairman says staff is studying topic

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo said Tuesday his staff was studying the data breach at Equifax, but he hasn’t decided whether to hold a hearing on the issue and he wasn’t sure if the breach would affect the Republican effort to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule.

The Idaho Republican led a committee hearing Tuesday on a separate issue — the promise and the dangers of the burgeoning financial technology industries, like blockchain and mobile lending — but the event was overshadowed by the breach that Equifax has said may have resulted in the theft of personal information of up to 143 million Americans.

House Republicans Vote to Strip Away Post-Financial Crisis Safeguards
Bill isn’t expected to be taken up in the Senate

House Republicans voted 233-186 Thursday to repeal large parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, just one month short of the seventh anniversary of the landmark law’s enactment.

The measure would unwind much of the financial structure put in place in the wake of the financial crisis. One of the biggest pieces of legislation enacted during the two terms of President Barack Obama, Dodd-Frank was designed to prevent the type of practices that led to the 2008 financial crisis and the recession it caused. Republicans have long complained that the law stifled the economy because it put too large a regulatory burden on business.

GOP Leaders on Flood Insurance Bill See Bipartisan Measure
Lawmakers working to beat Sept. 30 reauthorization deadline

Both Democrats and Republicans cited concern about hurting low-income homeowners in legislation that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, but they also agreed that the program, with a current debt of $24.6 billion, needs to be on sounder financial ground.

Lawmakers are working to beat the expiration of the current authorization on Sept. 30. Without new authorization in place, housing markets in coastal and flood-prone areas could be disrupted.

Dodd-Frank Repeal Set Up for House Passage
Rules Committee allows only five amendments

A massive bill to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial law and allow better-capitalized banks to opt out of much of government regulation is heading to the House floor for a final vote on passage that is expected Thursday.

Over Democratic objections, the House Rules Committee on Tuesday allowed only five amendments that appeared to be uncontroversial plus a manager’s amendment to be considered, and it declined to allow a hearing for a proposal to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act.

Dodd-Frank Repeal Bill is Target of Contentious Amendments
Republicans likely to support a few of them on the floor

As Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s Dodd-Frank repeal bill heads to the House floor this week, it will be the target of controversial amendments, including a couple that some Republicans are likely to support.

By late Monday, 16 amendments had been filed on the bill, which is scheduled for the House Rules Committee Tuesday evening.

Warren Calls Mnuchin’s Glass-Steagall Views ‘Bizarre’
Treasury secretary says separating banks from investment banks would be ‘big mistake’

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s assertion that the administration doesn’t support separating commercial banking from investment banking, as was the case under the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, almost left Sen. Elizabeth Warren speechless Thursday.

Almost.

Hensarling’s Offensive on Dodd-Frank Seen as Negotiating Move
Texas Republican’s new bill strips much more of CFPB’s authority

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling appears to be doubling down on his Dodd-Frank repeal legislation, adding more features objectionable to Democrats in the wake of a White House announcement of a four-month review of the nation’s financial laws and regulations. 

In a staff memo circulated last week, Hensarling filled five single-spaced pages with changes to a bill approved by his committee in September 2016 over the opposition of every Democrat and one Republican. Among other things, the Texas Republican’s new bill would strip much more of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s authority than last year’s version.

Unemployment Report Defies Conventional Wisdom on Trump Supporters
President-elect’s coalition largely based in states with above-average employment

If voters sided with President-elect Donald Trump because they were angry, it wasn’t because they were out of work.

Defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had 70 percent of her electoral votes coming from states where unemployment is above the 4.9 percent national average, while Trump had 37 percent of his electoral votes coming from states that meet that criteria.

Markets See Inflation Increase With Trump, Yellen Says

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen told lawmakers Thursday that the economy would continue to grow “at a moderate pace” over “the next couple of years” and the market’s reaction to Donald Trump’s election reflects expectations that inflation would rise.

Yellen also said she will finish out her term, which ends in about 14 months.

Wall Street Regulator Seeks $291 Million for New Headquarters
SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White to testify before House panel on Tuesday

The House Financial Services Committee says it will examine the Securities and Exchange Commission’s plans for a new $291 million headquarters and other aspects of the agency’s operations in a hearing set for Tuesday.

The agency sent the committee a fiscal 2018 budget request indicating it would seek $2.23 billion, a 30 percent increase above its fiscal 2017 budget request. The Wall Street regulator’s fiscal 2016 budget was $1.605 billion, which was extended to early December via the continuing resolution passed in September.

Wells Fargo CEO Apologizes for Sales Practices
Senate Banking chairman places some blame on regulators

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf said Tuesday he was “deeply sorry” about the bank’s creation of more than 1.5 million bank accounts without customer authorization and added that the bank holding company’s board “has the tools to hold senior leadership accountable, including me and Carrie Tolstedt.”

Tolstedt and her planned departure from the bank with well over $100 million in stock and options has been the focus of ire by Democrats and consumer advocates. She was the head of Wells Fargo’s community banking division where the alleged wrongdoing occurred.

House Would Slash Budget for Ex-Presidents
Large cut forecast for office space rentals

The treatment of America’s soon-to-be five former presidents is one of the many differences between the House and Senate Financial Services spending bills.  

The fiscal 2017 House bill would slash the budget for former presidents’ pensions, office staff, leases and other expenses by 41 percent from the fiscal 2016 enacted level, despite the addition of Barack Obama to the cohort.  

Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Could Lead to Catastrophe

Administration officials are warning of a humanitarian crisis if Congress does not move to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.