U.S. House approves bill on financial regulation costs

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By Lisa Lambert | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON The U.S. House of Representatives on
Thursday passed a bill requiring the country’s top securities
regulator to add up the costs of following new rules before
putting them into force, part of a Republican push to reform the
federal bureaucracy.

By a vote of 243-183, the chamber passed the bill, largely
along party lines, which would also require the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission to periodically review its existing
rules.

“Whether it is buying a car or choosing a college savings
plan, every American family weighs the pros and cons before
making major life decisions,” said Representative Ann Wagner,
the Missouri Republican who sponsored the bill.

The legislation “simply requires that the Commission engages
in the same process and can justify that the benefits of a
proposed regulation will outweigh its costs,” she said.

At the same time, the House passed a bill requiring the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the country’s derivatives
regulator, to assess the costs and benefits of proposed
regulations or orders.

The CFTC legislation also treads into two long-standing
disputes.

It bars the SEC from lowering the dollar-amount threshold
for requiring swap dealers to register with it. Currently the
bar is at $8 billion, and there have been moves to drop it to $3
billion.

It also restricts the commission in limiting positions that
traders can hold in the commodity markets. The CFTC has pushed
off finalizing those limits, included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank
Wall Street reform law to prevent fraud and manipulation, over
Republicans’ concerns they will hurt farmers and small
businesses.

Republican lawmakers who control Congress are eager to ease
regulation and undo rules enacted under President Barack Obama,
a Democrat.

Nonetheless, Democrats hold enough seats in the U.S. Senate
to block the SEC and CFTC legislation. Only nine Democrats in
the House voted for the SEC bill, and seven for the CFTC bill. A
single Republican, North Carolina’s Walter Jones, voted against
both bills. (Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch)



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