House and Senate FinReg Bills: What Remains to be Resolved
The House and Senate have each passed versions of financial regulatory reform, and it will be up to a conference committee comprised of members of both bodies to create a unified bill. On some fronts, the House and Senate bills aren’t far apart. On others, there’s significant daylight between them. Here is a short guide to some issues that remain to be resolved:
**Audit the Fed. **The House charges the Government Accountability Office with auditing the Fed, including its emergency lending programs, past and future. The Senate bill covers emergency lending programs only between Dec. 1, 2007, and the date the bill is signed into law.
**Derivatives. **Both the House and Senate bills require derivatives trades to go through clearinghouses. But the House bill provides for more exemptions and has bigger hypothetical loopholes, and the Senate bill requires banks to spin off and separately capitalize their swaps trading desks.
**Leverage requirements. **The Senate bill charges regulators with determining banks’ leverage requirements. The House bill has a firm 15 to 1 cap.
Proprietary trading. The House bill does not ban proprietary trading. The Senate bill charges regulators with studying proprietary trading in order to eventually restrict it by putting in place some form of the Volcker Rule.
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The Senate houses it in the Federal Reserve; the House version of the bill keeps it independent. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the head of the House Financial Services Committee, has promised to fight for an independent CFPA.
Autodealers. The Senate bill allows the CFPA to regulate a broader group of lenders, including, crucially, autodealers who make car loans. The House bill has a smaller purview for the new agency.
**Resolution authority. **The House bill has an $150 billion resolution authority pool, funded by big banks. In the event that the government chose to wind down a firm, it would tap the fund to pay for relevant costs. The Senate version instructs authorities to take a loan from Treasury to pay for winding the bank down and then says the government is the first entity paid back when the bank is dissolved.
**Executive compensation. **Both the Senate and House bills require financial firms to have independent panels set executive compensation. But the Senate bill forces executives to return their bonuses if the company misstated or mislead on its financial health.