WASHINGTON - The White House voiced major concerns Wednesday with a Senate regulatory reform package up for a vote next week in the Banking Committee.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the panel, unveiled the legislation Tuesday, which would make changes to pieces of the Dodd-Frank Act and institute reforms at the Federal Reserve and the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
Shelby has repeatedly said he's interested in working with Democrats on a bipartisan bill ahead of a May 21 panel vote, but several Democratic committee members were critical of the bill in statements after its release. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the top Democrat on the committee, called the discussion draft "a sprawling industry wish list of Dodd-Frank rollbacks."
It appears the White House is also worried that the bill goes too far in watering down the crisis-era law. President Obama vowed in his State of the Union address that he would block any efforts at "unraveling" new banking rules.
The Shelby bill "is an example of Wall Street interests trying to advance legislation that would weaken important consumer, investor and taxpayer protections that were established in the aftermath of the financial crisis," Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday.
The package is "not something that the President's going to go along with," Earnest said.
Although Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., continue to spar on trade, he's "confident that when it comes to opposing this piece of legislation, the President will be able to work effectively with Sen. Warren and others to stop it," Earnest said.
Warren has not yet commented on the Senate Banking proposal. The bill includes several measures that the Massachusetts lawmaker has challenged, including changes to a Dodd-Frank $50 billion threshold and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's qualified mortgage rule, though it also contains language based on a bill by Warren and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., aimed at the Fed.
The two lawmakers introduced legislation earlier this month that would permit Federal Reserve Board governors to hire their own staffs and require Board members to sign off on enforcement actions over $1 million.
Asked about separate Fed language in the Shelby bill that would set up a commission to examine the agency's structure, Earnest said the White House is interested in maintaining Fed's independence.
"The President has long said that our system benefits tremendously from a genuinely independent Federal Reserve. So that independence is something the President believes is worth protecting," he said.