Bank Deregulation Bill Becomes Law: Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act

On May 24, President Trump signed into law the most significant banking legislation since the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) in 2010.  The bill – named the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”) – passed its final legislative hurdle earlier this week when it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.  Identical legislation passed the U.S. Senate last March on a bipartisan basis. 

The Act makes targeted, but not sweeping, changes to several key areas of Dodd-Frank, with the principal beneficiaries of most provisions being smaller, non-complex banking organizations.

Below is a summary of several key changes:

The increase in the Section 165 threshold does not eliminate the $50 billion threshold used in other areas of regulation and supervision, such as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (“OCC”) “heightened standards,” the “living will” regulations adopted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) for insured depository institutions or the Federal Reserve’s capital plan rule pursuant to which it administers the CCAR process.  However, it is expected that the federal banking agencies may reconsider the appropriateness of using the $50 billion asset threshold elsewhere. 

The increase in this threshold is especially important because it may spark renewed interest in M&A opportunities among regional banks that have carefully managed growth to avoid crossing $50 billion or that have otherwise been reluctant to pursue transactions in light of the significant regulatory scrutiny that has accompanied applications by large acquirors.

The Act represents only the first set of changes to the Volcker Rule.  The federal banking agencies are expected to release a proposal the week of May 28 to revise aspects of the regulations first adopted in late 2013. 

Apart from the changes in the thresholds for banks with assets above $100 billion, most of the Act’s provisions are effective immediately.

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National Law Review, Volumess VIII, Number 145