Representatives Backed by Big Banks Vote to Deregulate Overseas Swaps

On Wednesday, by a vote of 301-124, the House of Representatives passed the "Swaps Jurisdiction Certainty Act," a bill that would create new requirements for the the Dodd-Frank rule-making process and limit regulation of U.S. banks on derivatives transactions known as swaps.

The bill would direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules jointly on cross-border derivatives trades by U.S. financial institutions. The SEC recently issued rules on cross-border trades that would allow overseas branches of U.S. banks to be exempt from U.S. regulations when conducting swaps transactions that only involve non-U.S. dealers. The CFTC is currently pursuing tougher rules on cross-border swaps that would require overseas branches of U.S. banks to follow U.S. regulations when conducting all swaps transactions. The Swaps Jurisdiction Act would effectively force the CFTC to weaken its rule in order to match the SEC's rule exempting cross-border swaps from U.S. regulations.

According to an analysis from Bloomberg News, more than half of all derivatives trades by the biggest American banks are conducted by overseas affiliates.

The bill is supported by the American Bankers Association, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and opposed by Americans for Financial Reform, the AFL-CIO, and Public Citizen, among others.

Data: MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to members of the House from interests supporting or opposing the Swaps Jurisdiction Act from January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2012. Contributions data source: OpenSecrets.org

  • House members voting 'YES' received, on average, 102% more money from interest groups supporting the bill than house members voting 'NO.'
  • House Democrats voting 'YES' received, on average, 75% more money from interest groups supporting the bill than house  Democrats voting 'NO.'
  • House member Scott Garrett (R-NJ), bill sponsor, received $416,249 from supporting interests.

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