44 Democrats Flip-Flop to Oppose Wall Street Deregulation Bill

AP Photo
AP Photo

On Wednesday, 44 House Democrats surprised Republicans by flipping their votes to upend a fast-track vote on a Wall Street deregulation bill that was similar to one those same Democrats voted for as recently as September.

“They were for this bill before they were against it,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

The bill would have delayed by another two years to 2019 the Volcker Rule which limits banks’ ability to engage in more risky hedge fund and private equity fund investments and bars proprietary trading, a practice wherein banks trade for their own profit. Democrats’ defeat of the fast-track vote–a procedure used to expedite non-controversial bills that requires a two-thirds majority for passage–stakes out a decidedly anti-Wall Street position designed to appeal to the more progressive, populist wing of the Democratic Party led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The Democrats’ reversal on the bill’s provisions is striking. As the Huffington Post notes, “Democrats approved a previous two-year delay of the same Volcker Rule provision last spring, pushing it to 2017, and dozens of House Democrats spent much of 2013 and 2014 lining up to support bill after bill that dealt blows to the party’s second-biggest policy achievement of the Obama era [Dodd-Frank].”

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), is officially known as the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act.

The bill is slated to come up again for a House vote next week under general rules that will not require a two-thirds majority to pass.