Is the Financial CHOICE Act DOA in the Senate?

Moves to abolish Dodd-Frank

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s, R-Texas, Financial CHOICE Act, H.R. 10, is officially on its way to the Senate for a vote.

But the odds that the act will pass through the Senate in one piece are not looking good.

For starters, the act has received only partisan support, passing through the Financial Services Committee in May in a completely partisan vote (34-26).

And the full House of Representatives vote wasn’t much better. The act passed on Thursday through the House (233-186), with one Republican even voting nay on the act. Once again, the act received no support from Democratic representatives.

The lack of bipartisan support will make it extremely difficult to pass through Senate. A bill of this magnitude would need a filibuster-proof vote in the Senate, which is 60 votes or more, meaning Senate Democrats will need to flip sides and vote to support the act.

Of the 100 seats in the Senate, Republicans make up 52 seats, Democrats make up 46 seats and Independents make up 2 seats (both caucus with the Democrats).

The lack of support for the act from Democrats is because the act completely abolishes the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which the Democrats have worked a lot to defend, especially the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters, D-N.Y., has gone on record saying the bill is “dead on arrival in the Senate and has no chance of becoming law.”

During the House debate on the Financial CHOICE Act on Thursday and before the final vote, key Democrats took a break to host a press conference on what they’ve dubbed the “Wrong CHOICE Act.”

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said during the press conference that the bill in its present form won’t pass the Senate, but there are attempts to chop it up and take it piece by piece.

So while the bill in its entirety might not pass Senate, it doesn’t mean the act is completely dead.

Oliver Ireland, partner at Morrison & Foerster, explained in an interview that at least some portions of the CHOICE Act are unlikely to pass the Senate in this Congress and possibly thereafter.

However, he added, “It is likely that other portions, and possibly other regulatory relief proposals, may pass both the House and the Senate.  It is too early to identify what will be viable in the near term, what may be viable in the longer run and what has no real prospect for enactment.”

Ireland stated, “The most likely path is for the Senate to come up with its own bill, which will require support from some Democrats, and to go to conference with the House and see what comes out of the conference.”

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