The AFR Advocacy Fund has released its voting record for 2017, the first year of the 115th Congress. “Where They Stand on Financial Reform” (linked and attached) tracks more than 55 votes—including both legislation and nominations—that gave House members and Senators a choice: They could decide to stand up for consumers, borrowers, investors and the safety, transparency, and accountability of the financial system. Or they could take the side of big banks and other powerful financial industry interests.
The report includes summaries of each bill, amendment, resolution, or confirmation decision, and tables of the relevant House and Senate votes with the measures presented side by side, making it easy to see how a particular House member or Senator voted on the full complement of issues, and who voted for or against any particular measure.
Taken together, these votes show a disturbing readiness, on the part of many of those currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, to do the financial industry’s bidding without regard for harm to families and communities. Other members of Congress have, by contrast, resisted the industry’s pressure and consistently stood up for the public interest, but they have been outvoted time and again.
While many dangerous bills advanced in 2017, only two of the legislative measures covered in this report — a massive tax-cut bill with large favors for Wall Street, and a resolution overturning a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule on forced arbitration — passed into law. But more bad bills are likely to make their way into law in 2018. S 2155, a package of financial deregulation measures, including some of those covered here, has already passed the Senate. We are continuing to monitor every financial regulatory bill voted on in either chamber that poses a threat to the public.
“A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street and the stock market are booming while wage gains remain elusive for most American workers, and wealth gaps continue to grow, contributing to a decades-long trend of widening inequality,” the report says. “And yet, even as fresh scandals continue to underscore the danger of letting banks and financial companies write their own rules, majorities of both chambers of Congress have taken up Wall Street’s call for renewed deregulation, throwing their weight behind a seemingly endless series of proposals to roll back post-crisis reforms and weaken the agencies responsible for enforcing them. To judge by the measures that a majority of lawmakers have authored, sponsored, and voted for, their agenda is to generate bigger immediate rewards for banks, financial companies, and their executives, no matter the dangers and costs for borrowers, homeowners, investors, or the overall economy.”
In a final section of the report, we list lawmakers of both parties who have voted particularly often to support the financial industry lobby and its policy wish list.