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News Release: AFR Voting Record Highlights Wall Street Influence In 115th Congress

Submitted by on February 21, 2019 – 12:41 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 21, 2019

CONTACT:

Carter Dougherty, carter@ourfinancialsecurity.org, (202) 251-6700

AFR Voting Record Highlights Wall Street Influence in 115th Congress

Americans for Financial Reform today released a new compilation of votes in the 115th Congress around financial reform that makes Wall Street’s success in driving its deregulatory agenda starkly visible.

Ten years after the financial crisis, a majority of members of the Congress that wrapped up work in 2018 voted again and again for bills pushed by the bank lobby that endanger financial stability, undermine consumer and investor protections, and enable racial discrimination in lending. The change in control of the House and a heightened awareness of the dangers posed by these actions provide an opportunity to see what changes in the 116th Congress.

The report, entitled “Where They Stand on Financial Reform,” lays out how each lawmaker voted in crucial areas affecting Wall Street and predatory lenders. It also identifies those members of Congress who most frequently voted with Wall Street or predatory lenders, and against the public interest. It updates a report AFR released in 2018 in order to cover the whole of the 115th Congress.

“Majorities in the 115th Congress voted repeatedly for measures that benefit Wall Street and predatory lenders over consumers and investors,” said Rion Dennis, Financial Reform Advocate at AFR. “Strong public opposition and the 60-vote threshold in the Senate ensured that many of these measures passed in the House, but not the Senate. But when some Democrats joined the solid block of Republicans – or where only 50 votes were required – dangerous deregulation became law.”

In the House of Representatives:

  • 195 members (all Republicans) did not vote against any of the deregulatory bills included in this report
  • 43 members (all Republicans) opposed at least one bill but voted to advance more than 90 percent of the deregulatory bills
  • 9 members (7 Republicans, 2 Democrats) opposed at least one bill but voted to advance 75 to 90 percent of the measures
  • 13 members (all Democrats) opposed at least one bill but voted to advance 50 to 75 percent of the bills

In the Senate, 45 senators (all Republicans) did not vote against any of the 15 deregulatory bills or bad nominees, nor did Vice President Pence in the 2 votes he cast. And 12 other senators (10 Republicans, 2 Democrats) voted to advance more than 50 percent of bills or nominees covered in this report.

The 115th Congress voted on nearly 100 bad bills and (in the Senate) confirmed nominees with records of working against the public interest, and often directly for banks. On a party-line vote a majority of Senators also confirmed Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; her first major actions were to propose crippling rules designed to protect consumers from predatory payday lenders, and to outline a new process to grant potentially sweeping exemptions and exceptions to consumer protections quickly and without public input.

Two major measures with implications for Wall Street became law: a massive tax-cut bill — whose top beneficiaries where the biggest banks in the country, with scandal-ridden Wells Fargo seeing the largest windfall — and a rollback (S. 2155) of parts of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Congress also used the Congressional Review Act to overturned two actions by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one that curbed racial discrimination in auto lending, and another that restored consumers’ ability to band together in lawsuits to hold financial companies accountable if they break the law.

The voting record can be read as a companion to AFR’s research on Wall Street money in politics – which will outstrip $2 billion in the 2017-18 election cycle – and its public opinion surveys, which demonstrates strong support for financial regulation.

“Wall Street injects massive amounts of money into the political process, and they continue to exert a dangerously dominant influence in shaping important economic policy decisions,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of AFR. “The consequence is vote after vote that rigs the rules for Wall Street and predatory lenders, and perpetuates racial discrimination, and which makes life harder and less secure for most Americans.”

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