Dodd-Frank Rules: Lobbyists, Financial Industry Continue to Stall Full Implementation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce unveiled its Fix, Add, Replace (FAR) Agenda recently, outlining the influential business lobby's agenda for financial reform. The report comes just days after Wall Street law firm Davis Polk released a new installment of its Dodd-Frank Progress Report chronicling the law's lethargic implementation. The two reports give a compelling picture of how the financial industry has successfully stalled implementation of the 2010 financial reform bill.

The delays to the law have been substantial across agency. Only the CFTC has kept up to date with its rule-making progress. This despite the 1-year deadline set by the statute. And while rule-making has stalled in general, the most egregious delays have come for the bill's most important rules.

One provision of Dodd-Frank, which allows the CFTC to set limits on commodity holdings for institutional investors "as appropriate," has been mired in debate over the scope of legislative power. Industry groups represented by attorney Eugene Scalia (son of Justice Scalia), won a September 2012 federal case, forcing the CFTC to go back to the drawing boards.

Perhaps the most controversial provision of the financial reform, the so-called "Volker rule" or restriction on proprietary trading, has yet to be implemented. The rule which would prevent banks from trading their own assets hasn't even made an appearance on the rule-making floor. 

Some of the blame for the delays can be placed on the difficulties of implementing over 2,300 pages of legislation, but lobbyists have waged a strategic battle to exploit weaknesses in the bill and stall implementation at every point. With little progress made and well-organized forces fighting for every advantage, don't expect resolution anytime soon.