House lawmakers agree on bipartisan package on capital markets rule-easing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday said they had agreed on a bipartisan legislative package to ease rules in a bid to help Main Street companies and boost jobs.

The agreement between Republican Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Jeb Hensarling and ranking Democratic member Maxine Waters will fuel hopes among the business lobby that lawmakers can move to loosen more financial laws during this Congress.

Monday’s agreement comes after Congress voted in May to ease oversight of all banks below $250 billion in assets, and to exempt community banks from a host of strict rules established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The bipartisan Dodd Frank rewrite sparked hopes among lobbyists that lawmakers would move quickly to change other financial rules they say are hurting Main Street businesses and stymieing economic growth.

The package agreed on Monday, dubbed the “JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018,” comprises 32 individual bills that have already passed the Committee or House during this Congress with broad bipartisan support.

“The bills are designed to breathe new life into markets that are suffocating under aging regulations,” Hensarling said in a statement.

Hensarling had hoped the bills could be added to the Dodd Frank rewrite but subsequently agreed with the Senate to pursue a second legislative package easing rules for listed companies and private firms looking to raise capital.

The Senate must ultimately approve any House package for it to become law and is likely to do so following the mid-term elections in November, although some lobbyists urged lawmakers to pass the package before then by attaching it to critical upcoming legislation such as Flood Insurance.

“The best chance for this package to be enacted into law is for it to be attached to must-pass moving legislation,” said Paul Merski, executive vice president at the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Michelle Price and Susan Thomas