The steep uphill climb faced by Republicans in trying to roll back last year's Dodd-Frank law was made clear on Monday by a memo from the U.S. Senate Banking Committee pledging to protect financial reforms.
The agenda memo, obtained by Reuters, showed the Senate committee, still under the control of Democrats, will examine much the same issues being targeted by its counterpart panel in the Republican-controlled House, but with different goals.
Oversight of Dodd-Frank by the Senate panel will focus on assuring that "the letter and the spirit of the law are being implemented by the regulatory agencies," the memo said.
The Senate panel will seek to ensure that public comment is being considered; that the new law is being enforced; that legitimate concerns regarding the act are considered; and that "regulators have adequate resources to perform their work and are using the resources efficiently," it said.
In contrast, a House Financial Services Committee agenda obtained last week called for weighing the "costs and benefits" of Dodd-Frank "to improve those parts of the act that work well while changing those parts that do not."
At the same time, House Republicans are trying to kill budget increases that the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission both say they need to implement and enforce scores of new Dodd-Frank regulations.
Since winning majority control of the House in November, Republicans have said they want to use their new-found clout to soften Dodd-Frank. At the same time, they have acknowledged that their prospects were daunting in the face of continued Democratic control of the Senate and the White House.
The other top items on the to-do list of the Senate committee, under its Democratic Chairman Tim Johnson, are housing finance reform and oversight of the 2008-2009 federal bailouts, said the memo dated Feb. 2.
One part of Dodd-Frank to be scrutinized by the Senate panel, possibly in public hearings, includes the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the Federal Reserve.
A study by the Financial Stability Oversight Council on identifying some large banks and non-bank financial firms as "systemically significant" and subjecting them to stricter regulation was also mentioned as a priority item.
"The committee may wish to examine the FSOC's recommendations, its designation of non-bank financial companies, and the Federal Reserve's implementation of heightened standards," it said.
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