Odds of changing reg relief bill are long, but many keep trying

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WASHINGTON — More than 50 amendments had been filed by Wednesday afternoon to be considered as part of a Senate regulatory relief bill, but it was unclear which proposed changes if any have the approval of the legislation's key sponsors.

Banking lobbyists were still scrambling Wednesday to gauge what might go into a broader "manager's amendment" — a package of what are typically technical changes seen as more likely to garner support — that will be offered by the bill’s lead author, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and agreed upon by the co-sponsors.

Provisions that were unlikely to make it into the manager’s package were being filed as separate amendments to the larger piece of legislation.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for instance, filed a long-shot amendment to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banking.

Other amendments are similarly broader than the targeted relief provisions in Crapo's bill that a critical mass of moderate Democrats have agreed to back. A proposal unlikely to have much traction is an amendment filed by Sen. Dean Heller, D-Nev., which would prevent hikes in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's guarantee fees from being used to offset the deficit.

On the Republican side, lawmakers have floated proposals to go even further than the Crapo bill in unwinding the post-crisis regulatory regime. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a bill that would limit the pay of employees working at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But that amendment is unlikely to pass muster with Democrat co-sponsors.

Because of the bipartisan nature of the Senate deal, the window is quite narrow for what could be added before the final bill is brought up on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could take steps to prevent any amendments from being offered, making the initial package brought to the floor likely what would pass the Senate.

The bill to roll back certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act already had the support of 12 Democrats and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats. However, the bill appears to have even more support as 16 Democrats and King voted for a procedural measure to advance the bill to the floor.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday that the co-sponsors of the bill effectively had a veto in deciding what will be included in the final deal.

Many of the provisions that were candidates to be added to the Senate package, before it goes to a vote, have passed the House with bipartisan support.

Some of those candidates include a bill that would allow bank customers to open a bank account with their smartphones by snapping a picture or scanning their driver’s license. Another would lengthen the schedule of resolution plans, or "living wills," that large banks must submit annually to two years.

Other House bills that have had bipartisan support are unlikely to be part of the final package even with stakeholders making a final push to try to get them into the Senate deal.

U.S. Bank, PNC, Capital One and BB&T sent the Senate a letter on Tuesday in support of a House bill that would get rid of Dodd-Frank's “systemically important financial institution” asset threshold and replace it with an indicator test. The concept was endorsed by the Treasury's Office of Financial Research and has support from Crapo and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who co-sponsored the bill. But it does not have sufficient backing to clear the Senate.

Rather, the deal that will likely be voted on in the upper chamber increases Dodd-Frank’s asset threshold from $50 billion to $250 billion. U.S. Bank, PNC and Capital One are all above that level.

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