Elizabeth Warren Proposes Change to Trade Bill to Protect Dodd-Frank Rules

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, talks about income inequality in the U.S. and federal trade policy. She speaks at an event in Washington. (Video courtesy of Roosevelt Institute. Source: Bloomberg)

Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing a change to trade legislation before Congress that would prevent any deals from weakening the Dodd-Frank financial regulations.

The Massachusetts Democrat argues that the fast-track trade bill could lead to an unraveling of the banking regulations passed after the 2008 financial collapse, and her position is backed by some constitutional scholars and other legal specialists.

Warren on Monday introduced an amendment that, if adopted, would alter the legislation so that any trade accord that includes provisions on financial services regulation would be ineligible for consideration under fast track.

Fast track, also known as trade promotion authority, allows the president to submit trade deals he has negotiated to Congress without threat of an amendment or filibuster. That would let the deal win approval with a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the chamber will finish its work on the trade legislation this week. It hasn’t yet been taken up by the House.

Warren was a champion of the original Dodd-Frank legislation against the almost unanimous opposition of congressional Republicans. The debate on the trade legislation pits her against President Barack Obama, who has sought the authority to assist in negotiating regional deals with Asian-Pacific nations and the European Union.

Six-Year Span

Although Obama signed the original Dodd-Frank law and has said he won’t agree to any trade pact that undermines the law, Warren said that a future Republican president could use a trade deal to weaken U.S. financial regulations. The fast-track authority would last six years.

Of particular concern to Warren is a prospective trade accord with the European Union called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

“This president supports financial reform, but he cannot stop the next president from caving to the big banks in a future trade deal,” Warren said in an e-mailed statement. “With European officials, Republicans, and giant banks on both sides of the Atlantic pushing hard to undermine financial regulation in the upcoming TTIP agreement, this amendment is the best way to ensure that future presidents can’t use this fast-track bill to undermine Dodd-Frank.”

Presidents have traditionally sought fast-track authority to strengthen their hand in negotiations with other nations.

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