It’s been 10 years since the financial crisis devastated pretty much everyone besides America’s biggest banks, which were mostly bailed out and left unpunished. Now, thanks to a crucial assist from some Democrats in the Senate, we may be due for a repeat.
On Tuesday, 16 Democratic senators and one independent voted with Republicans to move forward on a bill which will roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank regulations put in place after the financial crisis. The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the probability of “systematically important” banks failing “is small under current law and would be slightly greater under the legislation.”
Aside from loosening Wall Street regulations, the bill—which is titled the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act—will also defang current rules that require lenders to report who they are (and aren’t) lending to.
In February, a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting found that, in 2015 and 2016, banks in 61 metropolitan areas systematically denied mortgages to people of color. The report’s authors found that in Philadelphia, black applicants “were almost three times as likely to be denied a conventional home purchase loan as white applicants.”
By weakening the government’s ability to collect data on lending practices, the bill essentially gives banks a pass to pursue discriminatory practices with little oversight.
Supporters of the bill have been adamant that the legislation is meant to provide relief to mom-and-pop community banks. But as The Intercept’s David Dayen has reported, members of Congress and bankers alike are using the “community banks” line as a a fig leaf for the actual purpose of the bill: giving yet another handout to Wall Street behemoths like Citigroup.
As Indivisible’s Angel Padilla noted on Twitter, Republicans needed Democratic support to get the 60 votes needed to take the bill forward. And though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer technically voted against the bill, he also did nothing to stop its progress:
Listed below are all the Democratic senators (including independent Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats) who supported the bill, along with how much money the financial sector has donated to each of their campaigns in the past five years. (These numbers don’t include donations to so-called “independent expenditure” organizations like super PACs.)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): $1,909,757
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE): $170,810
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE): $373,599
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN): $448,997
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH): $421,263
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND): $511,039
Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL): $417,406
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): $921,903
Sen. Angus King (I-ME): $115,563
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): $289,314
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): $809,727
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL): $281,327
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI): $648,379
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): $319,249
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): $484,939
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT): $782,122
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): $1,377,713
These senators just voted to allow bankers to return to the same dangerous practices that gave us the economic recession in the first place. They are giving Wall Street the go-ahead to gamble with money that isn’t theirs. They are giving lenders more leeway to discriminate against black homeowners and other people of color. I’m sure they’ll be richly rewarded for it.