Greedy money shark
Greedy money shark

The Unit­ed States Sen­ate vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly today to begin dis­man­tling the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act of 2010, approv­ing Ida­ho Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo’s S. 2155 by a vote of six­ty-sev­en to thirty-one.

Every Repub­li­can vot­ed in favor of the bill, and they were joined by about a third of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus. The remain­ing Democ­rats vot­ed no.

Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren, who led the fight against S. 2155 for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus, decried the bill in a strong­ly-word­ed floor speech.

“What does it say about Wash­ing­ton [D.C.] that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats can’t come togeth­er to sup­port [sen­si­ble] gun reforms or solu­tions for work­ing fam­i­lies — but can come togeth­er to dereg­u­late big banks on the tenth anniver­sary of the start of the 2008 finan­cial cri­sis?,” she asked mid­way through the speech.

Answer­ing her own rhetor­i­cal ques­tion, she pro­ceed­ed to declare: “Here’s what I think it says: Wash­ing­ton [D.C.] has become com­plete­ly dis­con­nect­ed from the real prob­lems in peo­ple’s lives. This place works great for the peo­ple who can hire fan­cy lob­by­ists and write big checks, but it does­n’t work for any­one else.”

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Michael Ben­net, Tom Carp­er, Chris Coons, Joe Don­nel­ly, Mag­gie Has­san, Hei­di Heitkamp, Doug Jones, Tim Kaine, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, Bill Nel­son, Gary Peters, Jeanne Sha­heen, Deb­bie Stabenow, Jon Teser, and Mark Warn­er did not heed her call to vote nay.

They and inde­pen­dent Angus King broke ranks to sup­port the bill, which lob­by­ists for the bank­ing indus­try want passed.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as follows:

Vot­ing Aye: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT), Don Young and Lisa Murkows­ki (AK); Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Jon Tester (MT)

Vot­ing Nay: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray (WA), Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (OR)

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer and Deputy Leader Dick Durbin also vot­ed nay, as did Cal­i­for­ni­a’s Dianne Fein­stein, who is being chal­lenged by Kevin de Leon.

Nei­ther Mur­ray nor Cantwell have issued a state­ment on today’s vote.

But Ore­gon’s Ron Wyden did.

“After the Equifax secu­ri­ty breach and Wells Far­go cus­tomer abus­es, it’s clear there’s more work to be done when it comes to pro­tect­ing Amer­i­can con­sumers from big banks,” Wyden said. “Yet instead of work­ing to pro­vide more pro­tec­tions for hard­work­ing fam­i­lies, this bill stacks the deck in favor of banks.

“Banks just got a big Repub­li­can tax cut,” Wyden not­ed. “They don’t need an exemp­tion from rules pro­tect­ing con­sumers, now, too. I vot­ed against this bill because banks don’t need any more help. Con­sumers do.”

So did Ore­gon’s Jeff Merkley.

“Work­ing Amer­i­cans have not for­got­ten what hap­pens when banks write their own rules, and nei­ther should we,” Merkley said. “It was not so long ago when mil­lions of Amer­i­cans lost their homes, their jobs, and their sav­ings because we allowed big banks to police them­selves. Has the Sen­ate for­got­ten so soon?

“A ter­ri­ble pro­vi­sion in this bill allows small com­mu­ni­ty banks to start trad­ing deriv­a­tives – big bets on the future price of stocks, secu­ri­ties, and currency.”

“It makes no sense to have shut down the Wall Street Casi­no only to reopen casi­nos in our com­mu­ni­ty banks. This bill also opens the door to preda­to­ry prac­tices in the man­u­fac­tured and mod­u­lar homes indus­try – enabling cor­po­ra­tions to prey on some of the most vul­ner­a­ble work­ing Americans.”

“And it weak­ens require­ments that help fight dis­crim­i­na­tion in the home mort­gage mar­ket. This is com­plete­ly unac­cept­able. The bot­tom line is that this bill takes us back­ward — in a direc­tion that the vast major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans dis­agree with.”

“Work­ing Amer­i­cans have nev­er asked for high­er bank prof­its that come at the expense of con­sumer pro­tec­tions and tax­pay­er-fund­ed bailouts. The Sen­ate should scrap this mis­guid­ed piece of leg­is­la­tion and start over with a bill that puts con­sumers and work­ing Amer­i­cans first.”

NPI thanks Sen­a­tors Wyden and Merkley for their strong and out­spo­ken oppo­si­tion to this awful wolf-in-sheep­’s-cloth­ing leg­is­la­tion. They and Sen­a­tors Mur­ray and Cantwell rep­re­sent­ed our region well with their no votes.

We are very dis­ap­point­ed in our region’s oth­er sen­a­tors for vot­ing in favor of this bill. Should this leg­is­la­tion pass Con­gress, it will demon­strate once again that we have failed to learn any mean­ing­ful lessons from the Great Recession.

This vote reminds us that greed is a very pow­er­ful force in our nation’s cap­i­tal. Trump epit­o­mizes greed, and he has been a bad influ­ence on Con­gress, which was already lob­by­ist-ori­ent­ed as opposed to peo­ple-cen­tric. Greed’s present choke­hold over our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is caus­ing deep dam­age to our nation that will take a very long time to undo. It’s real­ly, real­ly impor­tant that state gov­ern­ments respond to bad bills like these by pass­ing stronger con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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