Financial Reform Conference Committee Excitement

Over at The American Prospect, Tim Fernholz provides a thorough rundown of how the financial reform conference committee will work. The whole piece is worth reading. If you don't have time, here's one key point:

The committee will use the Senate bill, with a few House-bill substitutions, as the default working text, which gives an advantage to reformers, since the Senate bill -- which includes the Volcker rule and tough derivatives-reform provisions -- is stronger than the House bill. 

The final bill is likely to be far closer to the Senate version than the House bill, because the unified bill will again need to clear the 60 vote hurdle in the Senate but will only need a simple majority in the House.

Some key points of what is in and what will be debated are below:

Consumer Protection is in and will stay there, but whether it's a standalone Agency (as in the House bill) or a Bureau housed at the Fed (as in the Senate version) is up for debate. The likely outcome is that this hot button issue will hew closely or exactly to the Senate version in order to hold the coalition of Senators necessary to prevent a filibuster. A standalone agency is preferable, but the inclusion of meaningful protection for consumers of financial products looks like it will be one of the major victories of this effort. It's not time to celebrate until the bill is signed into law. Thanks are due to our members who raised their voices in support of it and to all of our coalition partners for getting it this far.

Say on Pay is in as well. There is nothing in either bill that will directly and concretely end the worst excesses of CEO pay and bonuses in the financial industry. Say on Pay is at least a step in the right direction. That's why we started sponsoring a series of Say on Pay shareholder resolutions last year. Our coalition helped to build momentum for the right of shareholder to have a say on the pay of top executives at publicly traded companies. It's good news that Say on Pay is about to become the law of the land for finance.

Derivatives Reform is the hottest topic for the conference committee. The Senate bill includes the Lincoln amendment on derivatives that the banks hate and one of the worlds greatest living economists loves. We know Senator Lincoln (D-AR) best for her disturbing pro-Walton stance against common sense and popular opinion on the estate tax. Her strong amendment on derivatives reform was a pleasant change of pace. Whether it makes it through the conference is one one of the more interesting questions for the bill. Whatever the fate of the Lincoln amendment, it is great news that the requirement that derivates be traded through a clearinghouse will almost certainly make it into the final bill.

More Details: Annie Lowrey has the schedule. And the Washington Post put out a nice summary of some of the differences to be resolved between the House and Senate bills. Mike Konczal has an excellent summary of some keys to what's at stake in the conference committee. 


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