On April 19, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) announced that the Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the Financial CHOICE Act next Wednesday, April 26. Touted as a potential replacement for the Dodd-Frank Act, the proposed new law—which stands for Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs—was unveiled last June by Chairman Hensarling in a speech to the Economic Club of New York and was subsequently approved by the Committee last September. The hearing will focus on an updated discussion draft of the bill at next Wednesday’s hearing. If enacted, the Financial CHOICE Act would, among other things, tailor a bank’s supervision to its risk profile/business model and provide for an independent exam appeals process, while also providing for and imposing more stringent penalties in cases of fraud or deception. Other provisions of the bill would repeal the Volcker Rule, strip the CFPB of its examination powers, and “UDAAP” enforcement authority and also discontinue small business loan data collection. And, finally, the Act would bring the CFPB, FDIC, OCC, FHFA, NCUA, and the Fed’s supervisory functions under the congressional appropriations process, thereby mandating a cost-benefit analysis and, in some cases, congressional approval prior to the release of any new regulations.
According to a press release from GOP Committee members, the proposed new law is based upon two central principles: (i) “all banks need to be well-capitalized” but (ii) “Dodd-Frank’s one-size-fits-all regulations . . . make no sense and hurt smaller, hometown banks and credit unions that did nothing to cause the last financial crisis.” To this end, the Financial CHOICE Act seeks to ease capital standards for community banks and credit unions that “elect to maintain enough capital to ensure that if they get in trouble, taxpayers won’t be forced to bail them out.” Meanwhile, offering a very different response to the release of an updated draft of the bill, Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, released a statement reiterating numerous objections to what she terms “the Wrong Choice Act.” Among other things, Rep. Waters argues that the proposed law “prioritize[s] the needs of Wall Street over the needs of hard-working Americans,” and “would take away much needed protections and put our economic security at risk.”