***This is the first of several possible communications to the Senate during the course of the amendments debate.***
As the Senate considers S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, NTU urges all Senators to vote as follows on key amendments:
“YES” on Paul #2046: This amendment instructs the Comptroller General within the Government Accountability Office to complete an audit of the Federal Reserve system within 12 months of its enactment. A final report would be required to be completed within 90 days of the audit. The Federal Reserve currently operates with a lack of transparency and holds a lot of influence over the economy, and taxpayers deserve to know where their tax dollars are being spent.
“YES” on Enzi #2047: This amendment would rein in out-of-control salaries at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It would require the CFPB’s director to set the rates of pay for employees in accordance with the federal government’s general schedule.
“YES” on Portman #2078: This amendment would increase Congressional oversight of the CFPB by requiring the Bureau’s Inspector General receive Senate confirmation.
“YES” on Cruz #2167: This amendment would rightly eliminate the unaccountable CFPB by eliminating Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB has severely harmed America’s financial system, particularly among community banks, and has limited access to credit and made the financial services industry less competitive.
“YES” on Perdue #2171: This amendment would subject the CFPB to the regular appropriations process like any other agency in government. This agency has minimal oversight from Congress and can spend taxpayer dollars virtually unchecked. Submitting this agency to the appropriations process will ensure greater accountability of how taxpayer dollars are spent.
“YES” on Sasse CFPB Amendments: These amendments would subject the CFPB to the requirements of the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996. This will improve transparency and address the need for reductions to paperwork.
“NO” on Warren #2058: This amendment prohibits any bank that benefits from this bill from merging with or acquiring another bank for the next five years. Acquisitions can allow firms to have more efficient operations which, in turn, can decrease prices for consumers.
“NO” on Warren #2060: This amendment prohibits banks that benefit from this bill from stock buybacks for the next five years. The government should not be in the business of dictating where private firms can and cannot spend capital. Stock buybacks can actually be good for middle class investors as they raise the value of 401Ks, IRAs, and 529 Savings plans.
“NO” on Warren #2061: This amendment would harm the competitiveness of American businesses by requiring stricter federal oversight for banks that have outsourced more than 50 jobs over the last five years.
“NO” on Warren #2069: This amendment would reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. While some claim the repeal of Glass-Steagall caused the financial crisis, many of the institutions that were at the root of the crisis were not depository institutions and therefore not regulated by Glass-Steagall. In fact, repealing the law may have helped more institutions stay afloat as they were more diversified than they would have otherwise been.
“NO” on Hoeven #2071: This amendment would increase the amount of loans farmers are entitled to from the Farm Service Agency. This would expose taxpayers to more risk and put them on the hook for billions of dollars.
“NO” on Heller #2076: Enactment of this amendment would establish a new federal office within Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. CBO estimates that creation of this office would increase direct spending by $82 million and reduce revenues by $41 million over the next decade for a total deficit increase of $123 million with no offsets included in the amendment.
“NO” on Blumenthal #2084: This amendment would expand student loan forgiveness. Such an action will likely leave taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in unpaid back loans. GAO estimates that the government is on track to forgive over $100 billion in loans over the next decade and enacting this amendment will increase that amount.
“NO” on Merkley #2111: This amendment would strike Section 203. This section provides an exemption for small banks from the Volcker Rule, which restricts trading and ownership of investment funds by banks. The Treasury Department supports this exemption for small institutions.
“NO” on Sanders #2114: This amendment would have the government break up financial institutions that are “too-big-to-fail.” To have a stable financial system, government should support policies that help smaller institutions rather than arbitrarily breaking up entities that have no significant market power.
“NO” on Baldwin #2124: This amendment would expand the scope of the SEC and grant them the authority to reject stock buybacks purchased with savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The author of the amendment argues that stock buybacks come at the expense of workers, however, stock buybacks provide value to investors by increasing the value of 401Ks, 529s, and other savings vehicles that middle-class families depend upon.
“NO” on Smith 2148: This amendment would repeal Sections 401 and 402 from the underlying bill. These sections raise the asset threshold for prudential capital standards and exempt low-risk deposits held at banks from leverage ratios. These provisions are important for small community banks who have found it difficult to comply with Dodd-Franks crushing regulations. Ensuring these amendments remain in the final bill will enable smaller firms to spend more time servicing their customers rather than complying with regulations.
“NO” on Cortez-Masto #2164 and #2165: These amendments would reinstate the CFPB arbitration rule and make it harder for consumers to engage in arbitration. Such a rule will be a big win for trial lawyers at the expense of consumers. This rule will lead to more litigation and lead to higher prices of financial services and products.
Roll call votes on the above amendments to S. 2155 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress.
As always, NTU reserves the right to include other votes not listed in our annual Rating and as a reminder, we strongly urge Senators to support urgently needed reform to Dodd-Frank.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Policy and Government Affairs Associate Thomas Aiello at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org