Doug Sword

Trump Signals Intent to Nix Proposed Federal Pay Increase
Congress can weigh in if it feels need to maintain agreed-upon pay hike

President Donald Trump signaled his intent to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, informing Congress on Thursday that federal law allowed him to do so in the event of a “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

The move drew a quick response from D.C.-area members and is almost certain to draw howls from the Senate, which included a 1.9 percent pay raise in its Financial Services spending bill. That measure was part of a four-bill, $154 billion package that passed the Senate 92-6 earlier this month.

Trump’s Controversial Pick for Banking Watchdog Clears First Hurdle
All eyes may be on Kavanaugh, but Kathy Kraninger nomination is kicking up dust too

The Senate Banking Committee advanced Thursday the controversial nomination of Kathy Kraninger to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The vote split on party lines, 13-12. 

The panel’s chairman, Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, said Kraninger was “well prepared” to lead the bureau, and that it’s no surprise her nomination is contentious because the CFPB was the most disputed aspect of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act financial overhaul. 

Fate of Wall Street Watchdog Devolves Into a Squabble Over Acronyms
To many, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the CFPB. Conservatives say that doesn’t even exist

Only in Washington would an argument erupt over a federal agency’s acronym.

To progressives, the agency is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the CFPB, which took on Wall Street and won compensation for more than 27 million consumers during its startup years under former Director Richard Cordray.

Senate Passes Spending Package, Rejects Trump’s Proposed Cuts
Chamber has now passed seven of the 12 annual spending bills

The Senate approved a $154.2 billion, four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package Wednesday as a continuing bipartisan effort in the chamber pushed it ahead of the House in the appropriations process.

The vote was 92-6. Republicans cast the opposing votes: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Partisan Clash Over Election System Security Looming in Senate
Democrats want $250 million to help states

A partisan clash over Russian hacking of state elections systems appears to be coming to a head in the Senate, where a provision to add $250 million to a four-bill spending package for states to beef up election system security may be headed for a floor vote.

Democrats are using an announcement from the Election Assistance Commission and President Donald Trump’s comments in Helsinki on July 16 to pressure Republicans to allow a floor vote on Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s amendment to provide $250 million in grant aid to states to secure election systems.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Brings Banking Panel to Boiling Point
Nomination of Kathy Kraninger strains previously buddy-buddy relationship

Kathy Kraninger’s confirmation hearing was as politically contentious as it’s gotten in the last year and a half on what has otherwise been a very senatorial Senate Banking Committee.

The partisan fight even appeared to consume the always amiable relations between Chairman Michael D. Crapo of Idaho and ranking member Sherrod Brown of Ohio, both of whom expressed regrets at the dust-up over Kraninger’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Rules Readies Financial Services, Interior-Environment Bill
McHenry files only GOP leadership amendment

The House Rules Committee recommended a rule Monday that would allow 87 amendments to be heard when the House turns to floor debate of the combined fiscal 2019 Interior-Environment and Financial Services spending bill this week.

Among the amendments will be a Republican provision to bar the U.S. Postal Service from expanding its offering of banking services. But an amendment to provide $380 million in grant funding to states to beef up election security, pushed repeatedly by Democrats citing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, didn’t make the cut.

Proposals Would Help Homeowners, Make Ex-Presidents Pay for Office Supplies
Financial Services spending bill amendments also could affect local post offices

Local post offices would be barred from offering most banking services, homeowners with crumbling foundations would get some help and ex-presidents would have to pay for their own office supplies under proposals to amend the House’s fiscal 2019 Financial Services spending bill.

Proposed amendments also include some of the usual suspects: keeping the District of Columbia from enforcing certain local laws, allowing federally insured banks to take deposits from companies in the marijuana industry, and barring federal funds from being spent at properties owned by President Donald Trump.

House Panel Advances Bills Aimed at Helping Small Businesses
Rep. Maxine Waters calls bills approved Wednesday an example of “true bipartisanship”

The House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday approved a group of bills designed to make it easier for small companies to raise capital and relax regulations for investors, or potentially set the stage to make it easier.

Four of the bills would call for studies or reports.

Battle Over Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Leadership Ending
Challenge to Mick Mulvaney dropped

Leandra English has indicated she will leave her position at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this week, ending a legal contest over the directorship of the bureau that has been an ongoing political drama in Washington since the day after Thanksgiving.

In tweets on Friday, English said she would be “stepping down from my position” at the bureau, and her attorney, Deepak Gupta, said that English would drop her appeal of a federal judge’s denial of her motion for a permanent injunction. The injunction she sought would have barred Acting Director Mick Mulvaney from running the agency and instead installed English in the top spot.

Despite New CFPB Nominee, Mulvaney Could Be Around a Long Time
Observers see the pick as a strategic move to extend his tenure

Democrats could play into the White House’s hand if they plan to delay President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, experts say.

The White House announced Saturday that the president intends to nominate Kathy Kraninger, who is currently an associate director of the Office of Management and Budget, where Mick Mulvaney is the director.

Bank Group Plans Midterm Ads, Starting With Tester, Budd
Six-figure ad buys on the way in Montana and North Carolina

The American Bankers Association said Wednesday it would weigh into midterm congressional campaigns for the first time with independent expenditure TV ads, beginning with “six-figure” buys in Montana and North Carolina.

“These ads are a concrete example of our stepped-up political engagement efforts,” American Bankers Association President Rob Nichols told hundreds of bankers at the association’s government relations conference in Washington Wednesday.

‘Lenny the Loan Shark’ Leads Opposition to Payday Rule Repeal
Democrats gearing up for one of the biggest fights of the spring

What do Mick Mulvaney, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Richard J. Durbin, Lenny the Loan Shark and progressive groups have in common?

They all appear to be prepping for what is likely to be one of the biggest political fights of the spring — the attempt to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s controversial payday lending rule using the Congressional Review Act.

Podcast: Banking Deregulation in the Air
CQ on Congress, Episode 95

CQ banking reporter Doug Sword explains the state of play as Republicans (and some Democrats) try to relax banking regulations enacted during the Obama administration to safeguard against a repeat of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Senate Passes Bank Deregulation Bill, House May Seek Additions
More than a dozen Democratic senators joined all Republicans

The Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would be the biggest bank deregulation since 1999 and would roll back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.

More than a dozen Democrats joined the Republicans to pass the bill, sending it to the House, where conservative Republicans may seek to attach further provisions to roll back the 2010 law. Republicans will be trying to straddle the line between the extensive reversal of bank regulation that they seek and keeping on board the Senate Democrats who will be needed to clear the measure.

Fed Chairman Weighs in on Financial Deregulation Bill Set for Senate Debate
Senate set to consider measure on the floor next week

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell used his first appearance before the Senate Banking Committee to endorse the main features of a financial deregulation bill that the Senate is set to debate on the floor next week. 

Powell told the panel Thursday that the “most significant” provision in the bill is the replacement of the Dodd-Frank threshold for stringent Fed regulation of banks. The 2010 Dodd-Frank law put the threshold at $50 billion in assets. The bill would raise that to $250 billion, and reduce the number of banks effected from 44 to 13.

Senators Rebuke GSA, FBI Over Handling of FBI Headquarters
Abrupt abandonment of years-long process to relocate miffs lawmakers

Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday blasted the General Services Administration and the FBI over costs, press leaks and changes in security requirements in its redrawn plan for a new FBI headquarters.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso complained at a hearing that senators learned of the GSA’s abrupt cancellation of a previous FBI plan last year through press reports rather than from the agencies. He also cited the missed deadlines on that plan, which had been more than a decade in the making.

Senate Banking Panel Advances Fed, Two Other Financial Nominees
Economics professor Marvin Goodfriend endorsed for Federal Reserve Board

The Senate Banking Committee narrowly endorsed Thursday the nomination of Marvin Goodfriend to the Federal Reserve Board as Democrats complained that the economics professor is more focused on fighting inflation than creating jobs.

Goodfriend faced opposition from Democrats because of what they described as a lack of commitment to the Fed’s goal of supporting maximum employment. His nomination advanced on a party-line vote of 13-12.

Steven Mnuchin Mostly Meh on Market Drop
Treasury secretary says Russia sanctions are on the way

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers Tuesday that he’s unworried about the sharp drop in equity markets in recent days and noted the stock market is still much higher than it was at the start of the Trump administration.

Mnuchin also said President Donald Trump would be able to appoint a regulator next year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government sponsored mortgage giants, adding that the official would have the power to unilaterally curtail affordable housing programs backed by Democrats.

Latest Wells Fargo Penalties Add Fuel to Dodd-Frank Debate
Democrats fret that banks will get off easy under new Federal Reserve leadership

Democrats are praising former Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen’s actions against Wells Fargo & Co. and questioning whether the Fed will continue to be as tough now that she has left the central bank.

The Fed’s cease-and-desist order released Friday evening, on Yellen’s final day as chairwoman, restricts the nation’s third-largest bank to the $1.95 trillion in total consolidated assets it had at the end of 2017, a move the company estimates will cut its earnings this year by between $300 million and $400 million. The company had a net income of $22.2 billion in 2017.