President Donald Trump signed the biggest rollback of bank regulations since the global financial crisis into law Thursday.
The measure designed to ease rules on all but the largest banks passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support. Backers say the legislation will lift burdens unnecessarily put on small and medium-sized lenders by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act and boost economic growth.
Opponents, however, have argued the changes could open taxpayers to more liability if the financial system collapses or increase the chances of discrimination in mortgage lending.
The measure eases restrictions on all but the largest banks. It raises the threshold to $250 billion from $50 billion under which banks are deemed too important to the financial system to fail. Those institutions also would not have to undergo stress tests or submit so-called living wills, both safety valves designed to plan for financial disaster.
It eases mortgage loan data reporting requirements for the overwhelming majority of banks. It would add some safeguards for student loan borrowers and also require credit reporting companies to provide free credit monitoring services.
Republicans have made slashing regulations one of their top priorities since Trump took office in January 2017. But Democrats, who largely support the Dodd-Frank reforms, helped to get the bank regulation bill through Congress. Seventeen Democratic senators voted for the bill, while 33 House Democrats supported it.
“When the president signs this, we put community banks back in the mortgage lending business, which is really exciting for me,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., told CNBC on Wednesday.
The senator said her colleagues who opposed it did so not because of community banking policies but because of the restrictions lifted on mid-sized and regional institutions.
Some Republicans, such as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, argue the legislation did not go far enough to roll back regulations on banks. Certain lawmakers have pushed for a repeal of most or all of Dodd-Frank.