Beaver County Times: Keith Rothfus, Conor Lamb split on bill rolling back bank regulations

By J.D. Prose

The two congressmen running in the general election to represent Beaver County were split Tuesday over a vote rolling back bank regulations implemented after the financial crisis almost a decade ago.

In a 258 to 159 vote, the House approved a Senate bill loosening rules on small and regional banks in what Bloomberg’s Elizabeth Dexheimer described as “the product of years of financial-industry lobbying to soften post-crisis rules and sensitive negotiations on Capitol Hill to attract bipartisan support.” President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill before Memorial Day.

When it comes to the two men facing off in the new 17th Congressional District, though, there was no agreement as U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-12, Sewickley, voted for the measure overhauling the sweeping Dodd-Frank Act and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-18, Mount Lebanon, opposed it.

Rothfus took to the House floor Tuesday to argue for the legislation, which incorporated two of his bills addressing banking. He said the economy has continued to struggle and the regulations have forced local banks to close, choked off loans to families and “starved” small businesses.

“Everyone from the single mom in Ambridge looking to buy her first home to the entrepreneur in Beaver Falls working to achieve his or her version of the American dream deserves access to financial serves and the chance to survive in a growing, healthy economy,” Rothfus told his colleagues.

Rothfus’ statement included comments from bank and credit union executives across western Pennsylvania.

However, Lamb said in a statement after the vote that the legislation did not protect consumers.

“Before the recession, if you deposited a dollar in your bank, they would keep approximately 3 cents on hand, and then loan out or invest the rest,” he said. “After Dodd-Frank, many banks keep more like 6 or 7 cents on hand for each dollar someone deposits. We should not go backward.”

Lamb went on to say that “common sense regulations” protect Americans’ money and gives them more confidence in their banks.

“Banks today are experiencing record-setting profits, and it’s only fair that we continue to protect the interests of the taxpayers and avoid another bailout,” he said.