Senate Banking Committee to tackle capital formation

enate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) (L) with ranking member Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID).
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A U.S. Senate panel on Thursday is poised to approve with bipartisan support a raft of bills aimed at spurring capital formation, marking its first step this year toward modernizing market rules that critics have said are outdated and get in the way of business expansion and investment.

The move is part of Congress' ongoing efforts to streamline the U.S. financial sector and is largely separate from U.S. President Donald Trump's push to repeal or replace regulations he says could impede economic growth.

The Senate Banking Committee, led by Chairman Mike Crapo, is slated to send to the Senate floor five bills, with some Democrats expected to join with their Republican colleagues to vote for and co-sponsor several of the measures.

The bills would make a variety of changes to the Securities and Exchange Commission's regulations, such as raise the dollar amount of stock options that private companies can award employees in a given year from $5 million to $10 million, and ease restrictions to allow brokers to publish research on the global $3.7 trillion exchange-traded fund market.

They would also boost the number of people that can invest in venture capital funds without triggering certain federal rules, subject mutual funds in Puerto Rico to the same rules that funds already face on the U.S. mainland and credit stock exchanges back money for any fees and assessments they may have overpaid to the SEC in the last decade.

The hearing will mark the first time since the November election that the Republican-led Senate Banking Committee has convened to consider financial legislation.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, meanwhile, is also gearing up to boost capital-raising via a more comprehensive rewrite of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.

Trump's choice to lead the SEC, Wall Street deal making attorney Jay Clayton, has previously privately discussed ideas with Trump on how to help spur capital formation.

All of the bills slated for consideration by the panel on Thursday have been considered in prior congressional years, but never passed into law.

Some of the bills also have companions introduced in the House this year.