Legislative Activity

House Dodd-Frank Bills Unlikely to Get Senate Support

Last week, the House passed two bills that would alter the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act); the first was H.R. 2374, a bill that would bill put restrictions on how and when the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can release new “fiduciary duty” rules for broker-dealers and advisers who direct clients on their investments; and the second, H.R. 992, commonly referred to as the “swaps pushout bill.” Neither bill is expected to pass the Democraticly-controlled Senate, which is weery of making even technical changes to the Dodd-Frank Act.

Senate Blocks Watt Nomination

Last Thursday, October 31, Republican Senators blocked a vote on the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Senate voted 56-42 against advancing Rep. Watt’s nomination, just four votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and move to a vote. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated that he will continue to push for Rep. Watt’s confirmation.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, November 5: The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Housing Finance Reform: Protecting Small Lender Access to the Secondary Mortgage Market.”
  • Thursday, November 7: The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Housing Finance Reform: Essential Elements to Provide Affordable Options for Housing.”

Regulatory Activity

Volcker Rule Discussion Returns

Last Thursday, October 31, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler stated that the agencies tasked with writing the so-called “Volcker Rule,” that would implement section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Act, including the CFTC, the SEC, the Depeartment of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC),  are in constant comminication and discussion as they face the year-end deadline set by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for finalizing the rule. The Volcker Rule, as described in the Dodd-Frank Act, is intended to prohibit proprietary trading by banking institutions. Chairman Gensler has indicated that the CFTC may vote on a final rule at a meeting in the middle of December.

This Week’s Meetings:

  • Wednesday, November 5: The CFTC will meet in open session to consider a proposed rule on position limits. The CFTC’s 2011 position limits rule was thrown out by a court in 2012.