The House GOP took a big step toward entering a fight over Wall Street deregulation, advancing a bill that would do more to undo banking reforms than any piece of legislation in a generation.
On Thursday, Republicans on the Financial Services Committee voted along party lines to send the Choice Act to the floor for a vote. The timetable for it to get a vote in front of the full Senate is not clear, but committee staff say they think it could be taken up by the House as soon as Congress reconvenes after their upcoming one-week recess.
The Democrats on the committee, voting unanimously against it, offered a series of amendments designed to illustrate what they consider the flaws in the bill and forced hearings to go well into the night. "The Wrong Choice Act is a deeply misguided measure that would bring harm to consumers, investors, and our whole economy," said Rep. Maxine Waters, the ranking Democrat on the committee. "The bill is rotten to the core and incredibly divisive. It's also dead on arrival in the Senate, and has no chance of becoming law."
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Waters is right that moderate Senate Republicans may balk at a bill that appears to do so much for Wall Street. But some of the key agencies currently governing banks — including ones progressives view as essential for reacting to the next financial crisis — could be undermined through the reconciliation process, which only requires 51 votes. And Republicans are already moving headlong toward that goal, even as health care and the potential shutdown dominate the headlines.