• A Piecemeal Approach
  • July 6, 2009
  • Law Firm: Blank Rome LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) changed the game yesterday with his announcement that the House would tackle financial reform by considering a series of smaller, targeted bills rather than a more comprehensive reform bill. Frank said he anticipates his committee will move four to six separate bills between July and the end of the year. First out of the gate will be legislation to create a new "Consumer Financial Protection Agency" proposed by the Obama administration.

    With Frank’s Senate counterpart, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), fully occupied managing health care legislation, the timeline continues to slip in the upper chamber. Frank remains committed, however, to working the major issues through his committee this summer, and has already scheduled thirteen hearings and markups for July.

    There is little doubt Congress will impose new consumer protections on the financial service industry. Whether it will create a new agency to police them remains to be seen. Given budget concerns and other competing priorities, Congress may ultimately determine to enhance the consumer protection requirements, including simplified disclosure, within the existing regulatory framework of the SEC, FDIC, Federal Reserve, and the potentially combined Offices of the Comptroller of the Currency and Thrift Supervision.