The Republican-led Financial CHOICE Act started its long journey through Congress to replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on Wednesday.
After a lot of initial promoting from Republican representatives through blogs and social media posts, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, finally released an updated version of the Financial CHOICE Act on April 19. He first introduced a different version of the act last year and started to tease an updated version of the act earlier this year.
Now, one week later, Hensarling formally introduced the Financial CHOICE Act, H.R. 10, and the Financial Services Committee held its first hearing on the bill.
“It has been almost seven years since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. We were told it would lift our economy, but instead we are stuck in the slowest, weakest, most tepid recovery in the history of the Republic,” Hensarling stated in his opening remarks. “The economy does not work for working people. They have seen their paychecks stagnate. They have seen their savings decimated. We have seen millions who remain unemployed and underemployed and an economy working at roughly half of its potential.
Hensarling also commented on the embattled Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, stating, “The Dodd-Frank Act represents an even more dangerous prospect that is, namely, politicized lending. Washington elites are now allocating our capital to fulfill their agendas — devoid of any checks and balances or due process.”
“And it is impossible to bring up the threat of politicized lending without bringing up the CFPB,” he said. “The Financial CHOICE Act re-establishes this rogue agency as a civil enforcement agency, patterned after the Federal Trade Commission. One that is responsible for actually enforcing the enumerated consumer protection laws written by Congress, instead of making up its own law in an unfair, deceptive, and abusive manner.”
Committee Democrats, though, were not ready to toss out all their hard work on Dodd-Frank without a fight.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, stated in her opening remarks, “There is only one explanation for why we are here discussing yet another dead-on-arrival version of the Wrong Choice Act. It must be that the foreclosure crisis and the Great Recession somehow weren’t enough for the majority, and so they irrationally want to clear the way for round two.”
“I want to be very clear for anyone who is watching – that is exactly what this bill would result in. The Wrong Choice Act thoroughly dismantles Wall Street reform, guts the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and takes us back to the system that allowed risky and predatory Wall Street practices and products to crash our economy,” Waters said.
Her harsh comments against the CHOICE Act, dubbing it the Wrong Choice act, echo similar sentiments from other Democrats at the hearing.
“Democrats are going to fight against it, and stand up for Main Street,” said Waters. “This bill must not become law. There is too much at stake for consumers and for our whole economy.”
The full hearing, which included six expert witnesses, can be found below in a tweet from Rep. Sean Duff, R-Wis.