Washington Report: Updates from Capitol Hill

High court justice to retire; DOE invests in HBCUs

Next in Line: Financial Regulatory Reform

With healthcare reform out of the way, lawmakers will now turn their attention to President Barack Obama’s next domestic priority when they return to Washington next week—financial services industry reform. The administration hopes to get a final bill passed by Memorial Day.

“We think this is picking up momentum,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin told reporters at a briefing this week. “There’s a clear understanding of the importance of enacting legislation sooner rather than later.”

The House of Representatives has already passed a reform bill. Before breaking for recess, the Senate Banking Committee passed a bill by a vote of 13 to 10, without a single Republican in support of it. It now must be considered and voted on by the full Senate before it can be reconciled with the House version.

Black lawmakers are particularly anxious to implement financial reforms because they represent some of the communities that have been hardest hit by mortgage brokers that have taken advantage of borrowers who didn’t understand what they were getting into.

After staging a mini coup in December, ten Congressional Black Caucus members who sit on the House Financial Services Committee were able to get the committee to include in the House bill an amendment that would establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the seven financial regulatory agencies to ensure that the voices of minority consumers are heard.

Details surrounding the creation of a consumer financial protection agency (CFPA) are still being negotiated. The bill introduced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) calls for the agency to be placed within the Federal Reserve Bank. The House bill would make it a stand-alone agency. The House bill also exempts automobile dealers from CFPA regulation. Wolin says the administration opposes exemptions for certain lenders and wants to see it stripped from the bill. He also said that the administration would fight any efforts by Republicans or lobbyists to water down the Senate banking committee’s bill.

“The president made clear that it’s strong enough, that we would oppose efforts to weaken it,” Wolin said.

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  • Nathan

    Nial, lightening gthnis up for a change. I like it.Bill (and others): Writing for the New Republic in December 1988, William Schneider wrote the definitive essay on the liberal president: Tough Liberals Win, Weak Liberals Lose. I think its premature to declare liberal president over one month into Obama’s tenure. If you believe in buy low, sell high, gthnis almost can’t help but improve on Obama’s watch, and he stands to reap the benefits.But what I saw last night was a man who firmly understands how to work the angles in a debate. He reprimanded the GOP wingnuts even while painting a picture of an inclusive America George Bush often referenced while campaigning but never really believed in, let alone wanted.And the fact that Biden was prominently posted behind him, not in some undisclosed location (hunting wabbits) as President Dick Cheney so often was, makes it clear who is in charge.