NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

U.S. Senate passes Republican-backed bill to weaken Dodd-Frank financial reforms

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.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you to Senators Cantwell and Murray for their no vote.

    # by Mike Barer :: March 15th, 2018 at 5:57 AM