This Week in Washington for June 5, 2017
By Dina Ellis and Casey Miller
THE BIG PICTURE
Neither the House nor the Senate was in session last week. Both chambers will return this week and will be in session for the rest of June and most of July, with the exception of the Fourth of July holiday week. This likely will be the busiest period for the 115th Congress, as it is the first year after an election and Congress is working with a new administration that is eager to address its priorities. Both chambers will be in recess during the month of August and things will likely slow down after that, other than addressing the impending debt ceiling.
While Congress was away:
Through a series of letters exchanged between Members, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence also approved subpoenas for former national security adviser Michael Flynn and President Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen. The subpoenas are issued as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
LAST WEEK ON THE HILL
House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) Offered Revised CHOICE Ac: Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling submitted a new version of the Financial CHOICE Act, a Dodd-Frank overhaul. The main difference in this version is that the controversial provision repealing the so-called Durbin Amendment addressing debit card interchange has been removed. The Durbin Amendment, which required a cap on debit card transaction fees charged to merchants, was a key component of the Dodd-Frank reform efforts. The revised CHOICE Act retains the other key components including repealing the Volcker Rule and the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Duty Rule as well as major changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Reserve. The House is expected to vote on the legislation this week and then it will face significant challenges in the Senate.
Democrats Push Back on Flood Insurance Proposals: Republicans are beginning to see some opposition from Democrats on their measure to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires in September. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Ranking Member on the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, said that there are some parts that they will have “difficulty embracing.” Democrats want the program to be reauthorized for at least 10 years; the Republican bill only reauthorizes it for five. Rep. Cleaver also wants the program’s US$24.6B debt to be forgiven. Both sides of the aisle want to reduce the debt without raising premiums; however, the White House has proposed increasing premiums as part of its FY18 budget request. Despite differences, Rep. Cleaver said he is “optimistic” that they can agree on a bill.
NEXT WEEK ON THE HILL
Tuesday, June 6
Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee,
Mr. Kevin Allen Hassett to be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; and
The Honorable Pamela Hughes Patenaude to be Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Wednesday, June 7
Senate Finance Committee,
Eric D. Hargan, To Be Deputy Secretary Of Health And Human Services
David Malpass, To Be An Under Secretary Of The Treasury
Brent James McIntosh, To Be General Counsel For The Department Of The Treasury
House Financial Services Committee, Hearing,
Thursday, June 8
Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Hearing,
Ms. Dorothy A. Savarese, Chairman, President & CEO, The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, on behalf of the American Bankers Association
Mr. Steve Grooms, President & CEO, 1st Liberty Federal Credit Union, on behalf of the National Association of Federally-insured Credit Unions
Mr. R. Scott Heitkamp, President & CEO, ValueBank, on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America
Mr. Dallas Bergl, CEO, INOVA Federal Credit Union, on behalf of the Credit Union National Association
Mr. John Bissel, President & CEO, Greylock Federal Credit Union
Mr. Adam Levitin, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
House Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, Hearing,
10:00AM, 2128 Rayburn House Office Building
House Appropriations Committee, Hearing,
Witness: The Honorable Ben Carson; Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development
House Appropriations Committee, Hearing,
Witness: J. Christopher Giancarlo: Acting Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
No Decision on Congressional Review Act (CRA) Anytime Soon: Despite the fact that Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) has been leading a charge to use the CRA to strike down guidance from federal agencies, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has said that it will be months before they reach a decision on whether the CRA can be used against guidance and bulletins. The CRA can be used to claw back within 60 days regulations issued by agencies, but Senator Toomey wants to use the law to repeal guidance, such as that related to “leveraged lending” and CFPB guidance related to auto loans made indirectly through dealerships.
Department of Labor Officials Holds Closed Door Meeting With Lobbyists: Lobbyists representing groups such as the American Bankers Association, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets association, the Financial Services Roundtable, and the Investment Company Institute met with Department of Labor officials on May 30th to express strong concerns following Secretary Alexander Acosta’s announcement that he will let the agency’s Fiduciary Duty Rule take effect on June 9. This is the first of two closed-door meetings the Department is expected to hold on the rule; the second will be with Fiduciary Duty Rule supporters.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS
Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Approves New Reporting Standards: The four members of PCAOB unanimously adopted an auditor reporting standard to provide more relevant information to investors by allowing auditors to give a more nuanced diagnosis of a firm’s financial help. According to PCAOB Chairman James Doty, “The new auditing standard before the Board today is the first significant change to the standard for auditor’s report in more than 70 years.” The standard is expected to make the auditor’s report easier to read, to clarify the auditor’s role and responsibilities, and to give additional information about the auditor.
Paul Hastings’ government relations team is monitoring these issues. We help our clients craft strategies to address federal legislation and regulatory matters. Please reach out to us if your organization needs assistance with congressional or regulatory relations.