House passes bipartisan package on easing capital markets rule

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives voted 406-4 on Tuesday to pass legislation easing rules for small businesses and entrepreneurs in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote that could boost support for the package among Democrats in the Senate.

U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, speaks at the Milken Institute 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The “JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018” drawn up by the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling, and senior Democratic member Maxine Waters, aims to cut red tape for listed companies and make it easier for private companies to raise capital and go public.

Tuesday’s vote came after Congress agreed in May to ease oversight of all banks below $250 billion in assets, and exempt community banks from a host of strict rules established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which was adopted after the global financial crisis.

Hensarling had hoped aspects of Tuesday’s package could be added to the Dodd-Frank rewrite but subsequently agreed with the Senate to pursue follow-up legislation that the Senate has agreed to put to a vote at an unspecified date.

He said during a media briefing on Tuesday morning that he hoped strong bipartisan support for the legislation in the House would prompt the Senate to schedule its own vote on the package before the November congressional elections.

“We hope that we will have Senate action soon and that we can make a huge, huge solid step in unleashing entrepreneurship in America,” Hensarling told reporters.

He added that the House committee had been in discussions with Democratic senators and had taken on board their feedback when devising the package.

Some analysts questioned, however, whether key Senate Democrats would be willing to provide the votes necessary to pass the package after being attacked by the progressive wing of their party for backing the divisive Dodd-Frank rewrite.

“Moderate Senate Democrats appear unwilling to suffer friendly fire for carrying another regulatory relief bill to enactment,” Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at Washington-based Compass Point Research & Trading, said in a note.

Business groups on Tuesday urged the Senate to formally consider the legislation. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled the chamber would do.

“Senators will continue their ongoing bipartisan discussions as we work towards a vote in the coming months,” McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday.

Reporting by Michelle Price and Katanga Johnson; Editing by Peter Cooney