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Waters Testifies Against Wall Street Deregulation

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Washington, DC, January 12, 2015 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, gave the following testimony before the House Rules Committee on H.R. 37, a package of 11 bills designed to undermine the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. She also spoke out against H.R. 185 which, among other provisions, places onerous cost-benefit analysis requirements on federal financial regulators.

Last week, House Democrats defeated Republican efforts to fast track the same measure through a process known as suspension of the rules.

She made the following statement:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Slaughter, and Committee members for allowing me to speak today on HR 37, a hastily-compiled package that makes nearly a dozen complex legal changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act with little understanding of the ramifications.

Mr. Chairman, following last week’s unsuccessful attempt to slip this measure through the House with no opportunity for debate or amendment, I’m hopeful this episode has made clear that such substantive bills should be brought up only after being given an opportunity to robustly debate them.

That’s why I am still disappointed that this legislation is being rushed to the House floor during the second week of session – without a hearing or a mark-up in the Financial Services Committee.

Our Committee has nine new members – members who have not had the opportunity to carefully consider this package and determine its impacts. In fact Mr. Chairman, our Committee hasn’t even had its first organizing meeting – and we’re rushing this package – which will directly benefit some of wealthiest banks and corporations in America – to the House floor without the opportunity to hear expert testimony or offer amendments.

Since this bill has bypassed this important Committee process, I sincerely hope there will be an open rule, where all germane amendments are debated and allowed a vote.

In fact, Members have submitted about a dozen amendments to this package.

That’s because it contains a number of bad provisions, including some not previously considered by this House.

For example, it contains a provision that restricts the amount of information that a private company must provide to an employee that receives compensation in the form of stock – which hurts our nation’s workers. By denying employees the right to understand how much their compensation is worth – and the risks associated with that compensation – this provision may be downright harmful to these employee-investors.

But the most alarming and substantial change is additional relief for a particular type of risky financial instrument from the Volcker Rule, a cornerstone of Dodd-Frank.

During the last Congress, the House pushed relief for holders of so-called collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) until 2017. And after that vote, the Federal Reserve did exactly what the Republicans wanted: it grandfathered existing CLOs so that the Volcker Rule’s provisions wouldn’t apply until 2017 – a delay which amounted to three years of relief.

Though Republicans and big banks got what they wanted, they are greedily asking for more in this bill, which will provide another two years of relief for the biggest banks by delaying Volcker’s implementation to 2019 – nearly a decade after Dodd-Frank was enacted.

Mr. Chairman, the Volcker Rule’s purpose is simple –banks insured by taxpayer dollars can no longer engage in proprietary trading or investments in risky vehicles like hedge funds.

Volcker is even more important following last December’s Republican effort to ram through a repeal of the so-called ‘swaps push-out’ rule – by attaching it to a must-pass spending vehicle in the dead of night.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle are hoping that they can just keep delaying the implementation of Wall Street reform, assuming the public has forgotten just how bad the financial crisis was. And by continuously asking for more, they have undermined any of the good faith that existed to smooth the transition under Dodd-Frank.

If that wasn’t enough, HR 185 harms consumers and hands a big win to Wall Street by placing significant administrative hurdles on our federal regulatory agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and many others.

The bill requires them to conduct onerous cost-benefit analysis, skewed in the favor of special interests like big Wall Street banks. Not only would these provisions limit the independence of our Wall Street sheriffs, it would also tie up their already insufficient resources – and put them at even greater risk of litigation for every action they take.

For example this year, the CFPB will issue rules on everything from payday lending and student loans to debt collection. If passed, this bill will jeopardize those consumer protections, leaving service members, veterans and students vulnerable while bad actors tie the CFPB up in court for years.

And it comes at a time when House Republicans want to hold funding for our financial regulators flat despite new responsibilities and an even more complex financial system. With our economy still recovering from the 14 trillion dollar financial crisis, we cannot afford to destroy crucial reforms and hamstring our financial regulators, under the guise of so-called ‘job creation.’

Thank you for letting me speak before you today. Mr. Chairman, there are a number of members who wish to offer amendments. I ask that all these amendments be made in order, and I yield back.”

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