Senate Republicans to Feds: Heed Dodd-Frank Commenters

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WASHINGTON BUREAU — Republican senators are asking federal financial services regulators to give interested parties at least 60 days to comment on proposed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act regulations.

The lawmakers who signed the letter are members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. They include Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, two of the highest ranking Republicans on the committee, which expects to hold a hearing Thursday on Dodd-Frank act implementation.

The Republican lawmakers say they sent the letter because they want to keep regulators A serene picture of the U.S. Capitolfrom sacrificing quality and fairness in exchange for speed.

The letter was sent today to a group of regulators that includes Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board; Mary Schapiro, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); and John Walsh, acting comptroller of the Currency.

Republican senators say they are sending the letter because they have concerns about reports that regulators are “not allowing adequate time for meaningful public comment on their proposed rules.”

“We also believe that regulators are not conducting rigorous analyses of the cost and benefits of their rules and the effects those rules could have on the economy,” the lawmakers say. “The potential harm to our already weak economy and the public from ill-conceived rules cannot be underestimated.”

Lawmakers also are asking that the regulators answer several questions, including:

Whether the regulators are providing at least 60 days of comment on all proposed rules and studies required by the law.

What kinds of steps the agencies are taking to ensure

that the rules being adopted “are the least burdensome way to achieve the statutory mandate.”

What steps the agencies are taking to ensure that all “empirical data and economic analyses submitted by commenters are “thoroughly considered” before a final rule is adopted.

What steps are being taken to ensure that in promulgating joint rules the action is being coordinated with other appropriate agencies.

Whether, “given the importance of rigorous cost-benefit and economic impact analyses and the need for due consideration of public comments, would additional time for adoption of the Dodd-Frank Act rules improve your rulemaking process and the substances of your final rules?”

The lawmakers noted that a review of Dodd-Frank rulemaking found that public comment periods tend to be just a little over 40 days long, which is substantially shorter than the 60-day minimum comment period generally required by the Office of Management and Budget.

“Despite the abbreviated comment periods, some commenters have done their own analysis and identified flaws in agency cost-benefit analyses, the lawmakers say.

In January, when the SEC staff completed a study required by Dodd-Frank on the idea of expanding the scope of the fiduciary standard of care for efforts to provide financial advice, Republican commissioners on the SEC said they wished the staff had conducted a more rigorous analysis, the Republican lawmakers say.