Merkley Statement on Banking Committee Markup: “Now Is Not the Time to Be Relaxing the Rules for Wall Street”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the U.S. Senate Banking Committee passed on a party-line vote a sprawling bill that would deregulate many key aspects of the financial industry:

“Seven years ago, following a decade of predatory home-lending and risky derivative-trading practices by big banks, we witnessed the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. We experienced firsthand the negative consequences of the Wall Street Casino: our economy plummeted and too many middle-class families suffered.

“We have spent the last six years digging out of that hole, and now is not the time to be relaxing the rules for Wall Street. Unfortunately, the Republican bank regulation bill largely amounts to an industry wish list.

“The partisan legislation dismantles many of Dodd-Frank’s most reasonable and effective reforms. It makes it easier for banks to once again make predatory home loans. It attacks the Volcker Rule by creating a carve-out that would undoubtedly bring us back to the days of taxpayer-insured hedge funds. 

“We need common-sense solutions that will make it easier for our Main Street financial institutions to serve homeowners and small businesses without being hampered by unreasonable compliance burdens. And I stood with my Democratic colleagues on the Banking Committee today to offer legislation that would do just that, in addition to strengthening consumer protections for military families and others. Unfortunately, this sensible alternative was rejected in favor of a partisan strategy to continue to try to push through broad and risky changes to our financial system.

“Small community banks and credit unions should not be used as a Trojan Horse to sneak through deregulation for large and risky financial institutions. We must not allow Wall Street banks to once again strip wealth from middle-class families. Instead, we need to go back to the drawing board and work toward common-sense, bipartisan legislation that works for Main Street without jeopardizing financial stability and consumer safety.”

Merkley is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and co-authored the Volcker Rule, which creates a firewall between traditional banking activities and hedge fund-style trading, with former Sen. Carl Levin.