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Financial CHOICE Act Clears House Committee

Mon, May 8, 2017

The House Financial Services Committee voted 34 to 26 along party lines, passing the Financial CHOICE Act, a Republican bill to undo the 2010 financial reform law.

The bill introduced by Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the panel, cleared the committee despite vehement objections by Democrats.

A provision to repeal the Durbin amendment is still in—no amendment was offered to strip it out. The Durbin amendment requires the Federal Reserve to limit fees charged to retailers for debit card processing.

According to Committee staff, the Durbin amendment was the biggest elephant in the room, and nobody on either side of the issue wanted it raised. The amendment is facing resistance from both sides of the aisle:

  • There may be as many as a 5-7 Committee Republicans who will vote against Hensarling and remove the Durbin repeal language when it gets to the Floor. Hensarling needs all of his Committee Rs to stay with him. 
  • House leadership has already told Hensarling that there are going to be efforts to strip his repeal either in the Rules Committee OR on the floor.  If it’s pulled out in the Rules Committee, that will spare members the need to take a recorded floor vote on the bill.  
  • The Retail Industry Leaders Association made the rounds following the markup.  Their message: There is no reason to make members choose between financial services and merchants, especially since the Senate is not going to take up Durbin repeal.

The timetable for the CHOICE Act to get a vote in front of the full House is not clear, but committee staff say they think it could be taken up in late May or June.