The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2010 as a safeguard to help the U.S. economy avert another financial catastrophe like the Great Recession of 2007-2008. The Act’s provisions have since become one of the federal government’s most effective weapons in the fight against the type of high-level financial fraud that drove the economy to the brink of a depression and ruined the quality of life for millions of Americans.
Despite all the progress it has made in restoring a level of integrity and trust in the U.S. banking and investment industry, the very same forces that sank the economy are now attacking Dodd-Frank with the help of their friends in Congress.
Unable to gain support from Democrats for legislation sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) that guts the Wall Street reforms, Republicans added the measure to a $20.6-billion spending bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to pass.
Huffington Post reports that the committee met to vote out the 2016 financial services appropriations bill, “but in an unusual move, Sen. Shelby offered an entire bill as an amendment: the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act, a bill he authored and already passed out of the Senate Banking Committee, which he chairs.”
Democrats condemned Shelby’s move, which added 236 pages of regulatory undoing essentially written by the banking industry to a spending bill just 184 pages long.
“Why are you doing this?” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) demanded. “You are the chairman of the authorizing committee … You can bring it to the calendar on the floor. Why did you eat this bill? With an amendment larger than the sum total of the bill?”
Others suggested Shelby’s strategy was reckless and set “a terrible precedent” for getting appropriations passed.
In an effort to kill Shelby’s bill, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced an amendment to strip all policy riders from the appropriations bill, including Shelby’s proposal. It was defeated 14-16 along party lines.
“This tactic of using riders on must-pass legislation to chip away at crucial financial reforms is unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement. “And let me be clear … Faced with bills that threaten to turn the clock back to 2008 and leave the American people vulnerable to another crippling crisis, I will recommend the President veto them.”