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During Markup, Waters Warns of Risk to Investors, Consumers with Proposals to Roll Back Regulatory Framework

In opening remarks during a Financial Services Committee markup today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Committee’s Ranking Member, pushed back against Republican efforts to dismantle Wall Street reforms, including much-needed investor and consumer protections.

Waters noted that while she supports some of the measures under consideration, she is dismayed by broader Republican attempts to undercut Dodd-Frank and the protections put in place to prevent another financial crisis. “This markup is a distraction from the more pressing issues we have at stake in this Committee – whether it’s the future of Wall Street reform or the crushing poverty faced by too many of our fellow Americans,” Waters said.

Full text of the statement, as prepared for delivery, is below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The legislative proposals we have before us today are wide ranging and far reaching. I appreciate the opportunity to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to implement common-sense changes to our securities laws in some of these bills. For example, one bill is long overdue and much needed, and will provide critical protections to investors in Puerto Rico. Another will help ease the reporting of suspected financial abuse of seniors. And two others, if amended today, would make it easier to invest in promising start-ups.

However, there are several bills up for consideration today that would be harmful to our capital markets, to our oversight of insurance activities, and to implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. This includes proposals that would hamstring the SEC’s ability to properly enforce much-needed investor protections. It includes efforts that would weaken the SEC’s ability to oversee private equity funds and reduce transparency to those funds’ investors. It includes legislation that would stifle investors’ access to impartial research and recommendations used to inform their shareholder voting decisions. And it includes legislation that would significantly undermine our efforts to implement Dodd-Frank, including enhanced supervision of the insurance industry. The balance between capital formation and investor protection is a tenuous one, and we need to be vigilant about tipping the rules too far toward the side of capital raising over the concerns of savers.

Unfortunately, these small yet harmful changes are part of a larger, concerted attack on consumer protection and financial stability, which the Chairman announced to widespread denunciation last week. Mr. Chairman, how can we sit here today with these one-off bills, as you’re putting the finishing touches on your grand plan to deregulate Wall Street? Your proposal would severely undermine all the progress we have made since the depths of the financial crisis. I cannot stress enough how detrimental this new world order would be: allowing banks to opt out of Dodd-Frank while gutting its most important mechanisms to ensure safety and soundness in our economy; implementing half-measures on new capital requirements without the necessary protections against risky activity; repealing the only method to safely wind down a failing mega-bank; tying the hands of our regulators from conducting proper oversight, especially the CFPB; and upending monetary policymaking at the Federal Reserve.

Mr. Chairman, the contours of the plan that have been outlined so far are alarming. And let’s be clear. We know that this “plan” is nothing more than a partisan messaging tool in an election year where too much is at stake. Democrats have not forgotten why we enacted Wall Street Reform and how devastating the crisis was to millions of families and businesses across the country. Considering where we were eight years ago, our recovery indeed has been remarkable, thanks to the strong protections we put in place. This is why it is astounding that Republicans have no problem dismantling our robust regulatory framework and gutting the Fed’s ability to conduct monetary policy.

And what’s more – and I truly cannot repeat this enough – of the twenty hearings our Committee has held this year alone, only three have been devoted to housing. This is despite the formidable housing challenges millions of Americans face, and despite the 600,000 Americans who are homeless in this country. Instead, my Republican colleagues have rolled out a so-called anti-poverty plan that blames the poor for their own poverty instead of investing in the resources that they deserve.

So, I have to make sure that we all understand that this markup is a distraction from the more pressing issues we have at stake in this Committee – whether it’s the future of Wall Street reform or the crushing poverty faced by too many of our fellow Americans.

Thank you, I yield back.


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