While most people spent Thursday afternoon scrambling to wrap their heads around former FBI director James Comey’s incendiary testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, congressional Republicans were busy voting to gut one of the country’s most important financial laws—potentially dooming us all to another economic crisis in years to come.
By a vote of 233-186, the House passed the “Financial Choice Act,” a massive rollback of the Dodd-Frank regulations put in place in 2010 by the Obama administration. Those regulations were created as a direct result of the financial crisis of 2008, and, as imperfect as they were, helped to guard against the conditions which lead to the nation’s economy having taken a nosedive.
House Republicans have argued that the Dodd-Frank regulations are responsible for constraining economic growth, and hurt small banks. Among other things, the Financial Choice Act grants Congress the ability to fire the heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on a whim, and gives it authority over the bureau’s budget—including the ability to defund it altogether, CNN reported.
House Democrats fought against the bill, claiming that it puts the U.S. at risk for a similar financial crisis as rocked the economy in 2008.
“We are putting taxpayers again in harm’s way,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said on Wednesday. In an essay published this week, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) placed the blame squarely on President Trump and House Republicans, writing, “Donald Trump and Republicans want to go back to the bad old days and lead all of us down the road to another financial crisis, because for them, the priorities of Wall Street come first.”
During a press conference on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan called the Financial Choice Act the “crown jewel” in Republican deregulation efforts.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where, if it is to pass, it will likely need to be dramatically changed from its current iteration.