Key Senate Democrat not committed to further financial rule-easing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who backed a bank rule rewrite set to be passed by Congress, told Reuters on Tuesday she has not committed support for further rule-easing sought by Republican lawmakers.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) discusses farm policy with a reporter at Jamestown College, Jamestown, North Dakota, U.S. April 6, 2018. Picture taken April 6, 2018. REUTERS/Dan Koeck

Banking and business lobbyists hoped Heitkamp and other key Senate Democrats would back more changes to capital markets regulation after supporting the bipartisan bill to overhaul some rules introduced after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling had agreed to advance the Senate’s moderate rewrite of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law only after the Senate agreed it would consider other bills his panel has approved.

“I made it very, very clear when I talked to Chairman Hensarling that there was no quid pro quo, that this was not a trade-off for advancing this bill,” Heitkamp said in an interview. Neither she nor any of her Democratic colleagues had committed support for additional legislation, she said.

The House on Tuesday afternoon was set to pass the Senate version of the bill that will ease regulations on small banks and community lenders. The bill stops short of offering regulatory relief sought by big banks.

Heitkamp said she could be open to certain other measures sought by the House to ease capital markets rules, but did not specify what changes she might support.

Consumer advocates have warned the initial bill to revisit Dodd-Frank could open the floodgates for further rule-easing, but Heitkamp’s comments may help calm those worries.

“There may be provisions that I would agree with, and things that I’d like to see advanced as well, and I’m willing to do that,” she said.

Hensarling had initially refused to take up the bank bill after the Senate passed it in March, pushing for additional changes to be included.

But Senate Democrats insisted they would reject any of those modifications, and Hensarling relented after securing a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, that the Senate would consider some of his measures.

Hensarling has identified several bills from his committee for possible Senate consideration, including ones aimed at making it easier for private companies to raise capital.

Reporting by Michelle Price; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli