Pelosi Floor Remarks in Opposition to Dodd-Frank Rollback Bill

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives to voice her opposition to S. 2155, Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, that would deregulate large financial institutions and dismantle important consumer protections enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentlelady [Congresswoman Maxine Waters] for I commend her for extraordinary leadership in protecting the American consumer, the American taxpayer, our American financial systems that she has been just a remarkable, wonderful leader.

And I thank our distinguished Whip for yielding so that I could stay on schedule. Thank you, Mr. [Steny] Hoyer, for your great leadership as well.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill and do I so on behalf of hard-working American people. It’s a bad bill under the guise of helping community banks. It rolls back key can safeguards for American consumers. It opens the door to lending discrimination, and it potentially threatens the stability of our financial system and our economy. The bill would take us back to the days when unchecked recklessness on Wall Street ignited an historic financial meltdown. Wall Street gambled with the livelihood of consumers and then it was the middle class that lost its shirt.

I just want to share with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, why I have serious concerns about what is happening on the Floor today. It’s yet again another, another weakening of Dodd-Frank.

Here’s what I want to call to your mind. Because you may not remember this, or you may not have been fully aware of it, but you should know it.

On the night of September 18, 2008, I called the Secretary of the Treasury and said, ‘what is happening that we have had in the past couple of weeks Lehman, Merrill Lynch, and that very – in that 24-hour period AIG.’ I said, ‘can you come to the Capitol to explain tomorrow morning what is happening so that we can help restore confidence to the markets and not say anything that would do anything less than that.

He said, Madam Speaker, I was Speaker at the time, ‘tomorrow morning will be too late. Tomorrow morning will be too late.’ Why am I calling you? In any event the Secretary of the Treasury came to the Capitol for an emergency meeting, bipartisan meeting, House and Senate, to inform us that a meltdown was imminent.

But he described to us that night was so stunning. He took us down to the gates of hell, to a place so deep that even Dante would not have had a name for that circle in hell, because it was so stunning us down to the gates of hell, to a place so deep in terms of what was happening, the meltdown that was happening to our financial institutions.

When I asked the Fed Chairman, also at the meeting, Ben Bernanke, what he thought, he said, ‘if we do not act immediately, we will not have an economy by Monday.’ An economy by Monday. We thought it might be one or the other financial institutions. We will not have an economy by Monday.

To stop the meltdown the Bush Administration requested and Congress immediately passed funding to the TARP bill, you may be familiar with it. To prevent this from ever happening again, we passed Dodd-Frank, most extensive banking and financial reform reforms in decades and the strongest set of consumer financial protections in history. Since the Republicans have taken the majority in the Congress, and now in the White House, they have a series of weakenings of Dodd-Frank.

So you cannot just view this bill as this bill today. Bad enough as it is, worthy of a no, unworthy of support.

But to see it in light of a series of weakenings of Dodd-Frank. The bill dismantles key safeguards that are critical to combatting racial discrimination in lending despite overwhelming evidence that people of color are routinely discriminated against by financial institutions. All year the GOP has opened the door to discrimination in our financial system. This is just another discriminatory piece of legislation.

They pushed a CRA to roll back protections against discrimination in auto lending. They voted to repeal an executive order requiring federal contractors to comply with basic nondiscrimination laws. Big banks are also using the guise of protecting community banks to help out the largest banks on Wall Street. The bill exempts 26 of the largest banks from Dodd-Frank’s Act’s heightened oversight. Since 2007, these same banks have been sued or cited by the regulators and paid settlements of $40 billion. Some of which they can deduct from their taxes.

Republicans are also using relief for community banks, as their guise, as a way of undermining the Volcker Rule, threatening the stability of the financial system and the entire economy. Republicans’ willingness to abandon vulnerable Americans and jeopardize our entire financial system to further enrich wealthy Wall Street banks is astounding.

Today, the FDIC reported that banks helped by a massive tax cut earned record profits notice first quarter of this year. They’ve done that over the past three years as well. Time and time Republicans put the Wall Street and rich first and families last. The American people deserve a Congress that looks out for them. Not one that sells out and leaves them high and dry.

This is a raw deal for the American people. Americans deserve A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages and Better Future. Democrats are fighting to put that economic power back. Who has the leverage? Put the leverage back in the hands of America’s great middle class: America’s working families.

So just remember what they were willing to do leading up to 2008. They have forgotten, or maybe they don’t care, but they want to take us right back down that path, one piece of legislation at a time.

And if I know Mr. Hensarling, there’s probably more to come because I understand he doesn’t think this bill goes far enough in the wrong direction and he probably wants more. Whatever that is, today is the judgment we have to make about this bill, about our commitment.

And by the way, some of the things they want to roll back are very harmful to our veterans as well. And they want to be sure to make that point with you. In addition to all of the other concerns.

It’s a threat to our financial system, $250 billion dollars. I think that number is too large. The exploitation of the custody banks that some of the banks already told me they were going to try to pass themselves off as. The discrimination in lending that is in the bill. The lack of revealing the information, which is so essential to knowing what the facts are.

For these and so many other reasons, I urge a no vote and I yield back the balance of my time.

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