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Dodd-Frank advocates suspicious of technical fixes to legislation

Sherrod Brown

Legislators and lobbyists who supported the repeal of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act are currently pushing for fixes to the legislation, a move that’s drawing skepticism from the measure’s proponents.

Despite bipartisan support for some technical fixes, many congressional Democrats said that they remain suspicious of efforts that could undermine the massive financial reform legislation, Bloomberg reports.

“There is general agreement that technical correction on an 800-page bill would be appropriate,” a spokeswoman for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said, adding that Dodd-Frank proponents are concerned that a slight change could “morph into a substantive change,”  according to Bloomberg.

James Ballentine, the executive vice president of congressional relations and political affairs at the American Bankers Association, said that legislators and industry advocates are working to define which of the proposals should be labeled as technical fixes.

“Easy and technical are not two words that go together in this environment,” Ballentine said, Bloomberg reports. “A technical fix for some is a major issue for others and that’s what requires discussion.”

Lisa Donner, the executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, a group that advocates tighter regulation of the banking industry, said that the industry has disguised significant fixes to the legislation as minor changes in order to garner support.

“People telling the story about how there’s a bipartisan consensus are actually campaigning for significant rollbacks of the law,” Donner said, according to Bloomberg.

Some of the proposals that have bipartisan support include changes to the law’s derivatives rules and a provision intended to restrict distribution of confidential bank data obtained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created under Dodd-Frank.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already moved on some of the changes advocated by the financial industry, while some measures have already won committee approval but are awaiting a floor vote.

“Leadership in the House should be able to pass a ham sandwich if they want,” Jaret Seiberg, a senior policy analyst at Washington Research Group, said, Bloomberg reports. “It’s the Senate where the minority party and majority party have to work together if you want to get something passed.”

The focus has turned from repeal to technical changes as opponents come to the realization that the law is here to stay.

“The election result means the idea of repealing Dodd-Frank is not going to happen,” Phillip Swagel, a former assistant secretary to the Treasury under former president George W. Bush, said, according to Bloomberg. “With that discussion over, it should be more possible to make smaller changes.”

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