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Senate Bill Eases Bank Regulations After 2008 Financial Crisis


The Senate has approved a bill that eases regulations on banks. The legislation had broad bipartisan support, but it doesn't go nearly as far as Republicans in the House had wanted. From member station WSHU, Charles Lane reports.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: The bill's author, Senator Mike Crapo, says the financial reform law known as Dodd-Frank went too far when it was passed in 2010. He says it made loans more expensive and drove small banks out of business.


MIKE CRAPO: This bill, Mr. President, is a bill designed to protect community banks and credit unions. And that's why we have such bipartisan support for it.

LANE: The bill raises the threshold for what's considered a systemically important bank, which causes regulators to look at a bank's balance sheet and test how well it could weather another financial crisis. Originally, Dodd-Frank set that line at $50 billion in assets. But the new bill raises it to $250 billion. At the higher threshold, the number of banks required to go through rigorous annual stress tests would drop to just 12. This invoked the ire of more liberal Democrats, but ultimately, 17 moderate Democrats joined Republicans. Now, the bill has to be reconciled with one that passed the House last year. That bill went much further toward scrapping Dodd-Frank. Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst for the investment bank Compass Point, expects the House to go along with the Senate version.

ISAAC BOLTANSKY: This bill enshrines permanently the Dodd-Frank Act. Look, with this bill becoming law, we are sure that the skeleton of the Dodd-Frank Act is the law of the land for the foreseeable future.

LANE: And that's enough of a win for one of Dodd-Frank's authors, former Congressman Barney Frank.

BARNEY FRANK: That's why the House Republican conservatives hate the bill, I mean, even more than some of the liberals. I think we wrote such a good bill that it has been impossible to demonize.

LANE: Frank points to a key provision in the latest Senate bill, which gives regulators the flexibility to conduct stress tests on banks if they see trouble. For NPR News, I'm Charles Lane.

(SOUNDBITE OF SENA & DJ VADIM'S "MORNING LIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, a National Murrow, and he was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.