Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives opposed to Republican legislation that would repeal major sections of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law on Tuesday made multiple efforts to delay the bill.
The House Financial Services Committee was due to consider Representative Jeb Hensarling's sweeping bill to rework the 2010 law. In addition to eliminating large portions of Dodd-Frank - enacted in the wake of the global financial crisis - it would put new handcuffs on regulators charged with writing and enforcing its rules.
The partisan maneuvering to slow work on the bill demonstrated how divided the two parties are regarding rules for the financial sector, casting doubt on Congress's ability to revisit them significantly despite Republican President Donald Trump's vow to "do a number" on existing regulations.
First, Democrats ordered a vote on whether the committee even wanted to actually consider the bill. That amendment passed with support from only the Republican majority.
Then, Democrats ordered that all 589 pages of the law be read out loud by the committee clerk. The reading of legislative language is almost always waived by committee members when considering a bill.
After about 3-1/2 hours of the bill being read to a largely empty committee room, Democrats agreed to shelve that request and proceed to the amendments they wanted to offer. Democrats had drawn up roughly 140 amendments they wanted to offer to change the bill, according to a House aide. But that number is expected to shrink as the two parties work out a path forward.
Hensarling announced on Tuesday that despite earlier plans to vote on amendments to the bill throughout the day, no votes would be held on the bill until Wednesday morning at the earliest.
The procedural obstacles were all aimed at a bill that is not expected to actually become law, as the sweeping rewrite of Dodd-Frank is not expected to garner enough support in the Senate, which the Republicans hold by a slim majority.
But it is expected to pass the Republican-led House, and the skirmish over it was a clear indication of how much Democrats are willing to dig in on measures that would make life easier for the financial sector.
"This is one of the worst bills I've seen in my time in Congress," said Representative Maxine Waters, the committee's top Democrat, as the committee began debate on the measure. "The bill is rotten to the core, and simply carries water for Trump and his buddies on Wall Street."
Hensarling's bill would allow large banks to avoid most Dodd-Frank rules if they agree to establish a 10 percent capital ratio, and also scraps several powers given to regulators after the financial crisis to more closely scrutinize some of the nation's largest institutions.
It also makes several changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, severely limiting its power and giving Congress and the White House more direct control over its operations and funding.
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)