June 24, 2010 / 2:41 PM / 7 years ago

Factbox: Keys to House-Senate panel on Wall St reform

(Reuters) - A joint conference committee is merging Wall Street regulatory bills from the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to reach a final version of potentially historic legislation.

Once finalized, the finished product would have to be approved again by both chambers then sent to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. Lawmakers hope to deliver a bill to Obama by July 4.

Below is a look at where key points of contention have been resolved, and where big disagreements remain:



The conference committee is close to resolving this issue.

Both Senate and House bills create a government watchdog for consumers that would regulate mortgages and credit cards.

House Democrats have agreed to go along with a Senate plan to put the watchdog inside the Federal Reserve and make its rules subject to some oversight by other regulators.

A related issue is how much power state authorities have over banks. Industry wants more constraints on states.


Lawmakers agreed to limit debit card fees, giving a victory to merchants and a defeat to big card issuers, although card networks such as Visa and MasterCard would not be hit as hard as originally proposed.


Lawmakers agreed to widen audits of the Federal Reserve to include regular discount window lending and exclude monetary policy. They dropped a provision to make the head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank a political appointee.


Lawmakers agreed to make it easier for investors to sue credit rating agencies that overlook key information. They agreed to order the Securities and Exchange Commission to address conflicts of interests at the agencies and implement a new board proposed by Democratic Senator Al Franken if no alternative emerges from a two-year study.


Lawmakers agreed to require hedge funds and private equity funds with more than $150 million to register with the SEC and to exempt venture capital funds from full registration.


Lawmakers agreed to exempt small companies with market capitalization under $75 million from a rule in 2002’s Sarbanes-Oxley laws, enacted after the collapse of Enron Corp, dealing with businesses’ internal financial controls.

The Section 404(b) rule requires companies to provide an auditor’s report on the adequacy of their internal controls. Small businesses have long complained about its costs.


Lawmakers have agreed to give larger banks five years to comply with new capital rules, which would raise capital standards for bank holding companies and bar certain preferred securities from being used in measuring banks’ capital strength. Lawmakers have agreed that banks holding $15 billion or less will be grandfathered under the rules.


Lawmakers are close to resolving this issue.

Both the Senate and House bills set up a new government process for seizing and liquidating large financial firms in distress. The Senate would cover the costs of this from sales of the liquidated firms’ assets and, in case of shortfalls, fees on other firms. House negotiators have agreed to drop their $150 billion pre-paid fund but want to ensure there is a plan to cover the cost of any liquidation.



The Senate bill endorses an Obama administration proposal to ban risky trading by banks that is unrelated to customers’ needs; cap big banks’ future growth and take other steps.

But the Senate bill leans on regulators to write the details and leaves the door open to weakening the rule down the road.

The Volcker rule is not in the House bill, although the House bill would let regulators bar proprietary trading in cases where it threatens the stability of the financial system.

A beefed-up version of the Senate’s proposal, enhanced with amendments from Democratic senators Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin, is expected to be included in the final measure.

Banks are pushing for an exemption to a part of the Volcker rule -- named after White House economic adviser Paul Volcker -- that would prohibit them from sponsoring or investing in private equity and hedge funds. Volcker opposes this exemption, but it may be included.


Both bills seek to redirect as much of the $615 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market as possible through more accountable channels such as exchanges and clearing houses.

The Senate bill goes a step further and requires banks to spin off their swaps-trading units. Banks whose profits would be hurt oppose this. So do some regulators.

Wall Street firms that dominate the market -- Goldman Sachs ,JPMorgan Chase ,Citigroup ,Bank of America ,Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo -- are lobbying hard against changing the rules.

But aides have said the proposal from Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln will be in the final bill, in some form.


Lawmakers are at odds on this issue.

The House bill would force brokers who provide financial advice to adhere to the same standard as investment advisers, who have a “fiduciary duty” requiring them to act in their clients’ best interest. Brokers now must ensure only that a financial product is suitable for a client.

Senators call for a study and a potential rulemaking.


Lawmakers are divided on whether shareholders should have an easier way to nominate corporate board directors.

Most senators want shareholders to own at least 5 pct in a company to nominate a board director. House Democrats disagree.

Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh, Andy Sullivan, Kim Dixon, Rachelle Younglai, Charles Abbott, Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by Karen Brettell and Kristina Cooke in New York; Editing by W Simon

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