Magazine article American Banker

Republicans May Soon Target Informal Regulatory Actions: Toomey

Magazine article American Banker

Republicans May Soon Target Informal Regulatory Actions: Toomey

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian McKendry

WASHINGTON -- With slim odds of getting eight Democrats to support major Dodd-Frank Act reforms, Republicans will have to use other measures to make changes to the 2010 reform law, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said Thursday.

"I don't see much prospect in getting eight Democrats" to support "big things," Toomey told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Toomey said that one tool will be the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress, through a majority vote, to roll back rulemakings that were finalized in the last 60 legislative days. Republicans have already used the law to repeal more than a dozen rules that were finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration, but Toomey said "the clock runs out on formal rulemakings" soon.

"We are rapidly approaching what we can do" using the Congressional Review Act, he said.

But Toomey said that the "statute is very clear" that informal rulemakings are eligible for the review act as well.

"Sometimes it happens through the issuance of other devices, guidance letters, for instance, agency Frequently Asked Questions, financial institution letters," Toomey said. "These kinds of actions have the power of a rulemaking, which is the same as saying they have the power of law. They exist outside the traditional rulemaking."

Toomey said that Congress can ask the Government Accountability Office to determine whether a piece of guidance or a letter has the power of law and that if GAO determines that it does, then it would be subject to Congressional review, and could be repealed by a majority vote.

Toomey told reporters after his speech that he is already in the process of reviewing "several" pieces of guidance that have been issued by financial regulators and "we are in the process in determining if we can get a GAO determination. …

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