Washington Report: Updates From the Capitol

Senate panel fast-tracks Johns' SBA nomination; Congress reconciles reform bills

Congress Prepares to Merge Financial Reform Bills

Now that both chambers of Congress have each passed a financial regulatory reform bill, H.R. 4173 and S. 3217, lawmakers now must iron out the differences and reconcile the two. The task will be undertaken by 15 Democrats and 10 Republicans who will serve on the conference committee. Then the House and the Senate will have to vote on the final package before it heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.

House Financial Services committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) said this week that he wants the chairs of his panel’s subcommittees to be part of the conference team. If House leadership agrees, Rep. Maxine Waters (California), Rep. Mel Watt (North Carolina), and Rep. Gregory Meeks (New York) will have a seat at the table.

In the meantime, House members are poring over the Senate version to figure out the key differences. So far, they seem to center on risk management, consumer protection, and derivatives regulation.

Both bills include the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, but in the Senate version it would be an independent division of the Federal Reserve versus a freestanding agency that the House bill calls for.

Waters reiterated her pledge to fight for an Office of Minority Inclusion, which did not make it into the Senate bill. She urges black consumers to lobby their lawmakers to support the provision during the Memorial Day recess.
“All blacks must understand that it’s important because that’s going to be our eyes and ears and our advocate,” Waters advised.

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