S. 2155: Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act
This was a vote to pass S.2155 in the Senate.
This bill would reduce the broad limitations placed on banks by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was enacted in 2010 as a response to the recession that started in 2008. It would raise the threshold for the strictest government oversight to ensure it is directed only at the biggest banks that can withstand the regulatory burden.
The Dodd-Frank Act requires that any bank with assets greater than $50 billion be subjected to strict oversight by U.S. Treasury Department regulators. The measure was an effort to avoid the “too big to fail” problem that arose during the last recession when large bank failures created chaos throughout the economy. The new threshold under S.2155 would mean only banks with assets greater than $250 billion would be targeted for strict regulatory oversight.
The rule revision would affect 25 of the nation’s 38 biggest banks. All Senate Republicans voted for the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. They were joined by 16 Democrats and one Independent. Both of Colorado’s senators voted for it.
Most Democrats opposed the new threshold, saying it would return too much discretion to the banking industry on issues such as granting credit to customers, perhaps launching the nation into another economic collapse. Republicans say S.2155 could save community banks and credit unions that cannot afford the regulatory costs of Dodd-Frank.
Other provisions of the bill would exempt banks with less than $10 billion in assets from a rule that prohibits them from speculative trading. It also exempts small mortgage lenders from extensive reports to bank regulators about their borrowers and their loan status.
H.R. 1116: TAILOR Act of 2017
This was a vote to pass H.R. 1116 in the House.
This is a bill introduced by Colorado U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, to force bank regulators to adapt their regulations and oversight to the unique business plan of each bank, particularly the smaller ones. In other words, regulators are supposed to “tailor” their rules to different banks.
Bankers who testified for the legislation said regulators often fail to consider the different levels of risk and complexity for each bank’s business, instead imposing across-the-board rules that often are unnecessary and cumbersome for low-risk banks.
In addition to the House Financial Services Committee, the bill won support from the American Bankers Association and state bankers’ groups. The American Bankers Association released a statement in support of the bill that said, “While regulation is often a fact of life for financial institutions, the indiscriminate application of many rules to institutions whose business models and risk levels do not warrant it adds little to overall safety and soundness and much to the costs of financial products in this country. At its extreme, such over-regulation threatens the viability of many smaller institutions that provide essential banking services and products to communities across this country.”
H.R. 4909: STOP School Violence Act of 2018
This was a vote to pass H.R. 4909 in the House.
This is a bill to avoid school shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla., last month but without arming teachers.
Instead, it appropriates $50 million a year to be used for teacher training and anonymous tip lines about potential threats.
The House approved it on the same day thousands of students walked out of their schools briefly to protest a lack of action by government to prevent gun violence. The Parkland shooting by a lone gunman armed with an AK-47 killed 17 students and teachers.
Students from Colorado’s Columbine High School joined the protests. All members of Colorado’s delegation to Congress voted for H.R. 4909, also known as the Stop School Violence Act.
The bill authorizes the Justice Department to administer $50 million a year in grants to help schools develop “threat assessment systems.” The systems would follow FBI and Secret Services guidelines to help teachers identify potential killers before they strike.
Another $25 million would be spent on security equipment. The list would include metal detectors, stronger door locks and emergency notification technology to advise school administrators and police of emergencies.
The tiplines the grants fund would collect threat information through mobile telephone applications, telephone hotlines and Internet websites. Some members of Congress warned the bill provides inadequate legal procedures for persons inaccurately accused of threatening schools. The bill still requires approval in the Senate, where it is expected to be revised.
H.R. 4465: Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act of 2017
This was a vote to pass H.R. 4465 in the House.
This bill extends a program until 2023 for protecting four endangered fish species in Colorado but seeks to avoid government-mandated restrictions on water use and electrical generation. The fish are found in the Upper Colorado River and San Juan River basins.
Six members of Colorado’s delegation to Congress co-sponsored the Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act. All members of the delegation voted for it. It now requires approval in the Senate.
The Recovery Program started in 1998 to avoid restrictions the Environmental Protection Agency could impose under the Endangered Species Act, which seeks to protect wildlife.
The EPA lists the humpback chub, the bonytail, the Colorado pikeminnow and the razorback sucker as endangered. Federal law allows the EPA to restrict water and power use to some communities to protect endangered species.
The Endangered Fish Recovery Program uses water leases, habitat protection, conservation contracts and other methods to protect the endangered fish. It also authorizes wildlife management workers to remove invasive fish species that could kill the protected fish. The invasive species include bass, channel catfish and northern pike.
Water from the Upper Colorado River and San Juan River supplies cities, industry and hydroelectric power generators throughout the state.
H.R. 5247: To authorize the use of eligible investigational drugs by eligible patients who have been diagnosed with a stage of a disease or condition in which there is reasonable likelihood that death will occur within a matter of months
This was a vote to pass H.R. 5247 in the House.
This bill was designed to help persons with terminal illnesses gain easier access to experimental drugs.
Its supporters said the experimental drugs would be administered to patients only if there was evidence the benefits were likely to exceed the risks. The bill’s detractors said it would inspire false hopes in desperate people. It also would dangerously remove the Food and Drug Administration from the approval process, the critics said.
The bill’s chief sponsor, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., vowed to try again after the failed vote.
“Tonight a minority of the House of Representatives blocked the two-thirds vote necessary to pass Right to Try via suspension,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Those facing a terminal diagnosis and fighting for their Right to Try won’t give up and neither can we. This fight resumes first thing tomorrow morning as we send this matter to the Rules Committee and will work to bring Right to Try back to the floor immediately for a simple majority vote, which as was indicated tonight, has the bipartisan majority of votes to pass.”
Sources: Govtrack, media and congressional reports