U.S. Senate Banking Democrats oppose plan to markup financial bill

Reuters News
Posted: May 08, 2015 3:47 PM

By Sarah N. Lynch and Michael Flaherty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democrats on the powerful U.S. Senate Banking Committee have banded together to oppose plans by Republicans to approve a draft package of financial reforms next week, saying they have yet to see a copy of the bill.

In a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, the Democrats said they are expressing their "concern and disappointment" with his plan to conduct a markup "without giving all committee Democrats time to analyze and review" the proposal.

The letter was signed by all 10 Democrats on the panel.

Shelby has been working to develop a bill with a variety of financial reforms. Some of those measures are designed to provide regulatory relief for smaller financial institutions, such as credit unions and community banks.

Several people briefed on the matter say other reforms also could be part of the draft, such as a plan to raise the threshold at which banks could be labeled systemically important and a proposal to create a commission to restructure the Federal Reserve.

Shelby wants to have one comprehensive bill to bring to the Senate floor, an approach that the committee's top Democrat, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, does not support.

After months of calls and meetings to bring the two sides together, Shelby broke off talks with Brown when an agreement could not be reached, as the Ohio Democrat wanted to limit the bill to just relief on small banks.

While Republican members of the panel have seen a draft copy of the bill, Democrats say they have yet to see anything.

A markup, in which committee members may propose amendments and finalize a draft to be put forth for a full Senate vote, has been scheduled for next week.

Democrats said in their letter they are "ready, willing and able to work" with the Republicans to provide relief for small banks. But, they said, "a markup in one week on a broader proposal will not lead to a positive outcome."

A spokeswoman for Shelby did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Bill Trott)