Some CHOICE Act Ideas May Take Years to Enact, Hensarling Says

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). image via flickr
May 23, 2017 at 3:51 pm ET

Congress could pass separate legislation based on concepts included in the House Republican plan to replace the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said Tuesday, although such a move would be part of a “long game” strategy.

“I think there are, frankly, very significant portions of the Financial CHOICE Act that I hope, and expect, to get signed into law in this Congress,” Hensarling said at a Tuesday event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute. “Others are larger ideas, and it may take several Congresses to see these ideas come to fruition.”

“It’s important to play both … a long game and a short game,” Hensarling said.

The Texas Republican did not specify which elements of the bill, H.R. 10, are likely to be part of the “short game.” Democrats have pointed to providing community bank relief or, in some cases, changing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s structure, as possible areas of cooperation. But every Democrat on the Financial Services Committee voted against the measure at a markup earlier this month.

“I’m not sure I know precisely what is able to get bipartisan support,” Hensarling noted. “At any part of the process, I stand ready to negotiate in good faith with anybody.”

Hensarling has consistently acknowledged that institutional differences between the House and Senate make it unlikely that the CHOICE Act will be enacted in its entirety.

The House is on track to consider the CHOICE Act in June at the earliest. When asked Tuesday if he’s involved in a whip operation for the bill, Hensarling told Morning Consult that he’s been speaking with other lawmakers.

The whip operation has been complicated by some GOP lawmaker opposition to the measure’s proposed repeal of debit card swipe fee limits, a Dodd-Frank provision known as the Durbin amendment. Hensarling defended the repeal at Tuesday’s AEI event, and said the limits are a “prime reason” for the increase in bank fees.

“I’d like to see Durbin repealed,” Hensarling said. He added that he expects to see the CHOICE Act on the floor in “short order.”

Molly Wilkinson, executive director of the pro-repeal Electronic Payments Coalition, said in a statement that banks use revenue from fees “to maintain the electronic payments system and provide customers with free checking, debit rewards and other services.”

“The Durbin amendment has reduced revenue for banks of all sizes by billions each year, forcing many to cut those services,” Wilkinson said.

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