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US House moves to streamline Volcker enforcement, open up small dollar lending

The House Financial Services Committee advanced legislation March 21 that would make the Federal Reserve the exclusive authority on the Volcker rule and push the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to allow depository institutions to offer deposit advance products.

In a committee markup, a number of Democrats joined Republicans in a 50 to 10 vote to move forward on Arkansas Republican French Hill's bill making the Fed the exclusive rulemaking and examination authority over the Volcker rule, which prohibits financial institutions from engaging in proprietary trading. In addition, the bill would exempt banks with less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets and total trading assets and trading liabilities that are less than 5% of total consolidated assets. That exemption was also part of a broad Dodd-Frank revision bill passed by the Senate last week.

Another bill, sponsored by Indiana Republican Trey Hollingsworth, would repeal the FDIC's 2013 guidance on deposit advance products and require federal banking regulators to issue standards on short-term, small-dollar loans. The legislation would align the FDIC's stance on small dollar lending with that of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which repealed its guidance on deposit advance products in October 2017 as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized its regulations on payday lending.

The bill, titled the "Ensuring Quality Unbiased Access to Loans Act of 2017," also includes a provision that would exempt insured depository institutions and insured credit unions from the CFPB's payday rule. That regulation is also being reconsidered by the CFPB under Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney.

The committee also moved on six other pieces of legislation.

* A proposal from Missouri Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer would require regulators to recognize the initial margin posted for centrally cleared derivatives when assessing the supplementary leverage ratio.

* A proposal from Wisconsin Republican Sean Duffy would raise the threshold for companies to register as a public reporting company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

* A proposal from West Virginia Republican Alex Mooney would exclude law firms and attorneys from collecting debt on behalf of a client.

* A proposal from Ohio Republican Warren Davidson would amend the Dodd-Frank Act to exempt non-cleared derivatives with end-user counterparties from the Credit Valuation Adjustment capital charge.

* The remaining two bills mimic language in the Senate's Dodd-Frank revision bill. One bill concerns credit protections for veterans and the other addresses the frequency of examination cycles for small banks.

All eight bills will now move to the House floor for full chamber debate and votes.

With the Senate having passed its package Dodd-Frank revision bill March 14, the House is contemplating possible changes. House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has made it clear he would like to see his committee's many individual bills, like those reported out of the committee March 21, attached to the Senate package. But Senate Democrats warn that substantial changes could disrupt bipartisan support in the other chamber.