The Biden administration proposed a list of new measures Thursday that it says can be done without Congress, including telling midsized banks to hold more liquid assets, increase their capital, submit to regular stress tests and write “living wills” that detail how they can be wound down.
“These are all actions that can be taken under existing law and as a result, there’s no need for congressional action in order to authorize the agencies to take any of these steps,” said a senior White House official.
The White House’s push for more regulation comes after days of turmoil in the banking industry that included the collapse of U.S. institutions Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank and Switzerland’s Credit Suisse getting a government lifeline.
A 2018 law that eased requirements from the post-financial crisis Dodd-Frank Act, pushed by Republicans and some moderate Democrats, raised the threshold at which banks are considered systemically risky and subject to stricter oversight to $250 billion from $50 billion. Silicon Valley bank had $209 billion in assets at the end of last year.
The Federal Reserve’s top regulator told Congress this week that Silicon Valley did a “terrible” job at risk management, but Republicans and Democrats have criticized regulators and the agency for lax oversight.
The Fed and other bank regulators have indicated they are already looking to strengthen bank rules, particularly for firms between $100 billion and $250 billion in assets.
Some Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, have called for the repeal of the 2018 changes entirely. But the prospects of legislation in a divided Congress are unlikely, according to analysts.