Sixteen Senate Democrats last week joined Republicans in a procedural vote to advance the package, opening a rift on the left over whether to ease up on an industry against which the Democratic Party has rallied as recently as the 2016 campaign.
Supporters of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), say it is aimed at providing regulatory relief to small and community banks, not the Wall Street behemoths behind the decade-old crash. Warren has led a drumbeat of criticism from the left that it goes significantly further, potentially allowing the largest financial institutions to take on more risk, easing oversight of foreign-owned banks and watering down consumer protections.
In addition to tweets on the matter, Warren last week used a fundraising solicitation to her email network to call out the bill’s Democratic supporters. The move drew irritated some in private, Politico reported.
“She has her perspective and her point of view, but the truth will prevail,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), one of seven Democratic supporters of the bill facing reelection this year in a state that President Trump carried in 2016, told radio host Hugh Hewitt last week. “We’re going to spend a lot of time correcting the myths, correcting the misstatements about this bill.”
The measure exempts about two dozen financial firms with assets ranging from $50 billion to $250 billion from the strictest rules imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act in the wake of the financial crisis. Warren and other critics say those institutions accepted billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts at the time and shouldn’t have their oversight relaxed now.
The Massachusetts Democrat went on three Sunday shows to press her point. On “Fox News Sunday,” she dismissed arguments from fellow Democrats that the banking measure is mainly about benefiting small financial institutions, saying that “if this bill had been about nothing but community banks, I think it would sail through with very little opposition.”
“You don’t have to believe me on this,” Warren continued. “The Congressional Budget Office has said if this bill goes through, the chances that the American taxpayer will be called on to bail out Wall Street again go up.” On CNN’s “State of the Union,” she argued that similar efforts to loosen restrictions on the industry helped precipitate the crisis in the first place.
Senators still need to work through dozens of amendments to the bill, a process set to start Monday. If it passes, they will need to reconcile it with a more far-reaching bill that House Republicans approved last year.
Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.