This Thursday, one year after the president signed a sweeping new financial reform bill into law, the Senate Banking Committee will ask tough questions of regulators in charge of making it real. And Sunlight will cover it live.
President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act (officially the “Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act”) into law on July 21, 2010. The final bill made massive changes to how the financial industry is overseen, in response to a devestating fiscal crisis that stemmed in large part, experts agree, from recklessness in the financial sector.
The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has been digging deep on the Dodd-Frank Act, revealing the negotiations and influence behind the scenes. On Thursday, we will bring that experience to bear, and provide context to live video of the Senate Banking committee’s one-year hearing on the act. At sunlightlive.com, our reporters will provide real-time analysis to illuminate a complex, murky, partisan subject with high stakes.
Last year, negotiations on the Dodd-Frank Act were marked by partisan division, and the bill ultimately passed with just six Republican votes.
A day after the bill passed the Senate, now-Speaker of the House John Boehner proposed blocking federal rule-making entirely.
“I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea,” said Boehner. “It sends a wonderful signal to the private sector that they're going to have some breathing room.”
Since then, at least 12 bills have been introduced that would alter or repeal the act.
Meanwhile, regulators worked to implement the act's new rules. On Thursday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the act will begin regulating large banks, even as it operates without a director. (President Obama named Richard Cordray director for the bureau on Monday, though his confirmation is far from secure.) Over a hundred new rules have been written and will soon take effect. And agencies have reported thousands of meetings with parties interested in the act’s provisions.
Those interests have well-funded ties to Congress and regulators, employing a swarm of lobbyists and donating thousands to political campaigns.
That interest is in evidence in few places more than the Senate Banking Committee (officially the “U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs”), Chairman Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota, received more than $67,000 in contributions toward his 2010 re-election bid from donors claiming employment by financial giant JPMorgan Chase and from connected political action committees (PACs). During the 2010 cycle, members of the committee received a total of $9 million from PACs and $26 million from individuals connected to firms in the finance, insurance and real estate sector, according to analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Witnesses testifying before the committee include a who's who of financial regulators and the originator of Dodd-Frank: Rep. Barney Frank, sponsor of the bill; Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury; Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chair; Mary Schapiro, Securities and Exchange Commision chair; Gary Gensler, Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair; Martin Gruenberg, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation acting chair; John Walsh, acting comptroller of the currency.
Today, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined the progress made since last July, noted the efforts to stymie the bill and urged the president to veto any repeal effort.
“Too many Americans are still suffering from the pain of the financial crisis,” he wrote. “We owe them a financial system with better protections against abuse and catastrophic risk.”
So, tune in at 10 a.m. Thursday as we cover the anniversary hearing live on sunlightlive.com (you can sign up for a convenient reminder e-mail on the right).