Hensarling Said to Target Volcker Rule in Bid to Undo Dodd-Frank

  • Republican’s plan also would change Consumer Bureau structure
  • Proposal comes as Donald Trump looks to lay out his agenda

A key House Republican will look to overturn Volcker Rule limits on banks trading with their own capital and change the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of a broader effort to overturn the Dodd-Frank Act, according to people familiar with the matter.

Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, also will propose sparing banks that meet certain capital levels from the strictest requirements of the 2010 law and would revoke regulators’ ability to determine which firms are systemically important, according to the people, who requested anonymity because the plan isn’t public.

Hensarling’s plan, which he is scheduled to outline Tuesday during a speech in New York, also would give the Securities and Exchange Commission more tools to punish individuals and institutions that commit fraud and other abuses on Wall Street, the people said. The sweeping proposal incorporates a number of measures already introduced by Republican lawmakers, including those that provide relief to community banks, the people said.

The legislation isn’t likely to become law this year, and critics in Congress and in the financial services industry say some of the details serve mostly as messaging and fundraising tools and aren’t likely to attract any support from Democrats. Some aspects could inform other financial policies, including plans by presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump to rewrite Dodd-Frank. Trump has said he plans to deliver is own proposal in the coming weeks.

As part of his plans to make Wall Street more accountable, he wants to allow the SEC to triple the amount the agency can fine firms for illegal activity. The regulator would get authority to impose fines equal to investor losses in instances of fraud or deceit. Fines for insider trading also would be increased and all proceeds would be used to reduce the federal deficit.

Hensarling wants to also get rid of a Dodd-Frank provision that allows the government to take over a financial firm and direct the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to dismantle it, the people said. He would replace it with a strengthened bankruptcy code that could allow such companies’ failures to be handled in court.

A spokesman for Hensarling declined to comment on the plans.

One aspect of Dodd-Frank that isn’t included in the lawmaker’s plan is a repeal of the Durbin Amendment, which significantly cut the fees charged on debit card purchases. While the banking industry has continued to fight against it, retailers has pushed to expand it, extending one of the most antagonistic lobbying battles in Washington.

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