Onlookers Hope Dodd’s Retirement Plan Helps Push Banking Reform

Posted January 6, 2010 at 4:09pm

Congressional Republicans and financial services lobbyists alike said Wednesday that they hope the retirement of Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will not blow up bipartisan banking reform legislation this year.

While Dodd’s announcement could slow the regulatory reform effort, financial services lobbyists said the decision could ultimately help push the Senate to act before the end of the year.

“I think it makes it possible for Dodd and Shelby to implement what they’ve already agreed to,— said Stephen Verdier of the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Dodd and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the committee, issued a joint statement on “principles— where they are in agreement in late December. While the principles are far from actual legislative language, the bipartisan agreement came following several weeks of negotiations over some of the most contentious issues, including whether the government should create a new consumer protection agency and whether the Federal Reserve should have more or less supervisory power.

Lobbyists said they were also encouraged that the Senate would act since re-election politics no longer loom over Dodd.

“Removing the politics that are associated with a re-election campaign makes it easier to craft a bipartisan bill,— said Scott Talbott of the Financial Services Roundtable.

Republican said they also hope that is the case, although they cautioned that with electoral pressure no longer a factor, Dodd could feel more comfortable moving to the left — which could end the bipartisan efforts.

A senior GOP leadership aide noted, “There’s certainly a lot of political will to come to a consensus when Chris Dodd is running for re-election. Whether that exists, we’ll see.—

However, the aide praised Dodd’s work with Shelby over the past several months. “From our perspective, he’s been going in a good direction in talking with Shelby,— the aide said, adding that if those efforts continue the prospects for passage this year appear bright.

Although lobbyists expect a financial services reform package to move forward, Dodd’s retirement could cause sticking points such as the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency to fall by the wayside. The financial services industry has been aggressively lobbying against the new agency.

“The new CFPA always had a long row to hoe,— said one financial services lobbyist, who said Dodd’s retirement could mean the death knell for it.