Representative Barney Frank mounted a spirited defense in the House today of the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial reform legislation that bears his name, but fell short in his attempts to block cuts to financial oversight bodies.
Frank sought an amendment to plug a $131 million cut in funding to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the amendment was voted down 270-160. Another amendment which would have transferred $63 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Frank’s bill created, also failed, 265-163.
The amendments came up amid a whirlwind of short votes as lawmakers wrangled over the Republicans’ $1.2 trillion spending measure to fund the federal government through the rest of this year. GOP leaders want to cut $61 billion from the budget this year.
Frank, never one to shy from a fight, mixed it up with Republican adversaries on the floor today over the amendments. In his typically caustic manner, the Newton Democrat derided a Republican amendment to scrap several oversight positions that Republicans derisively call “czars.”
One was for the special master of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, whose job is to make sure that beneficiaries of bailout money don’t receive exorbitant bonuses or salaries.
“Why our colleagues decided that that position should be abolished and a high level person charged with that responsibility should not be there is baffling to me,” Frank said.
At one point during the exchange, a GOP lawmaker declared: “To the Czars, I say, Nyet!” To which Frank responded: “I will leave it to the gentleman to work out his Lenin fantasy.”
Despite Frank’s efforts, the amendment passed 179-249. A second, similar amendment cutting even more positions – including the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren – had not gotten a vote by about 7 p.m.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.