Of the many Dec. 31 deadlines facing Washington, at least one is getting pushed out, according to regulatory officials: The final draft of the Volcker Rule.
The editing process and eventual completion of the rule — which places limits on banks' trading abilities — requires the sign-off of five government agencies, and previous drafts have swelled to 300 pages. (Read More: Volcker Rule: CNBC Explains)
Due to the complexity of the rule, the challenges of agency coordination and the volume of feedback regulators received, officials are now pointing to the first quarter of 2013 as a more tenable deadline, instead of the year-end goal telegraphed previously by participants like Martin Gruenberg, acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"Our goal is to achieve a strong and consistent rule, although the process is not as easy or simple as any of us would like," said Treasury Undersecretary Mary Miller in prepared remarks at a recent banking conference. Miller noted that regulators had received more than 18,000 comment letters on the proposed rule, but were making "steady progress" toward its implementation.
At its core, the rule aims to restrict banks from making certain speculative investments for their own gain — also known as proprietary trading. Such practices came under harsh scrutiny during the financial crisis when banks made big bets based on the direction of the economy, while advising clients otherwise. (Read More: Inside America's Economic Crisis)