Shelby Hints at Tethering Dodd-Frank Changes to Appropriations Bills

Speaking before a crowd of community bankers today, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) hinted that congressional Republicans could aim to modify the Dodd-Frank financial reform law by attaching reforms to appropriations bills – a move that could prove antagonistic.

“It might take that this year,” the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee told a receptive audience at the Washington Policy Summit of the Independent Community Bankers of America. “We’re not giving up.”

Shelby said lawmakers could attempt a repeat of what happened in December, when a provision to roll back a Dodd-Frank statute that limits certain risky derivatives products was inserted into a $1.1 trillion government spending measure (H.R. 83). The broad funding bill passed both chambers with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama, but not before Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) attempted to rally fellow Democrats to strike the provision from the legislation.

Shelby is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, making him well situated to influence annual spending bills. He was the panel’s ranking member during the 113th Congress, when Democrats controlled the chamber.

Obama said in this year’s State of the Union address that he would veto any bill aimed at “unraveling the new rules on Wall Street.” His administration appears to be sticking to that position. Last week the White House issued a veto threat for H.R. 1195, a bill that would add advisory councils to and cap funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent federal agency established by the Dodd-Frank law. The House passed the bill 235-183, largely along party lines. The Senate has not taken up the measure.

Shelby also spoke about a forthcoming legislative proposal that’s expected to ease regulatory requirements for small and regional banks. Shelby said he’s aiming to get four or five Democrats on the Banking Committee to support the measure. He added that doing so will test whether Republicans and Democrats can compromise on issues of financial regulation.

While Shelby stopped short of delving into specifics, noting that much of it “has not been marketed to some of my colleagues” on the banking panel, he did say that mortgage lending rules and lengthening regulatory examination periods would be targeted.

He sidestepped a question from a conference attendee about the timing for a committee markup of the legislation. Previously, the panel said it expects to consider the package on May 14.

“We’re going to do what’s doable,” Shelby said. “It won’t be a panacea, but it will be some progress.”

Morning Consult