NEW: House votes to rein in agency that fined Wells Fargo $100M

The GOP-controlled U.S. House voted Thursday to roll back Dodd-Frank financial rules put in place after the nation’s last financial crisis and place tough new restrictions on the consumer protection agency that fined Wells Fargo $100 million for creating fake accounts.

Backers including U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, called it a “great thing” that will ease excessive regulations and free up community banks to lend more, while opponents called that a phony cover story for a shameless wish list penned by powerful Wall Street donors and banking lobbyists.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, speaking in Stuart Monday.

“Instead of protecting consumers, Republicans choose to protect those who cheat consumers,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said.

The Financial Choice Act forces the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to rely on Congress for funding and consent on enforcement actions, the national advocacy group Consumers Union said, “dramatically reducing its power to stop companies from breaking the law.”

It would leave the agency “as an unrecognizable husk incapable of doing its job to protect consumers, homeowners, older Americans, students, service members and veterans,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

With other rules designed to stop financial meltdowns rolled back, he said, “What could possibly go wrong if Wall Street banks and predatory payday lenders are allowed to run amok again?”

The legislation would have to pass the Senate and be signed by President Trump to become law.

Former Florida governor and now Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist opposed the bill on the floor.

“I was governor of Florida when the financial crisis rolled through my state like a hurricane,” Crist said. “I remember 2008 and 2009, the bailouts.”

Wall Street was allowed to gamble with Main Street’s future, he said: “Don’t put them in charge. Don’t let them do it again.”

Mast said before a town hall meeting in Stuart this week he looked forward to voting for the bill.

“This is going to be a good thing for lending, for Main Street, for people that want to be able to start businesses, people that want to go out there and get homes,” Mast told The Palm Beach Post.

The bill, he said, would help by “getting a little bit of that regulatory burden out of the way, and allowing them to get into endeavors or homes they want to get into. That’s a great thing.”

Democrats opposing the bill called it the Wrong Choice Act, saying it not only increases the chances of another financial crisis but also guts the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It even gets rid of the CFPB’s public database of consumer complaints, opponents said.

“This is the worst piece of legislation that I’ve seen since I’ve been a Member of Congress,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.

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