Senate Names Conferees for Financial Reform Bill Conference

We need your immediate assistance to defeat legislation that would greatly expand the regulatory and enforcement powers of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the entire business community.  These enhanced powers are included in the House version of the Wall Street reform bill, H.R. 4173.

The Senate has named conferees for the financial reform legislation conference.  The Senate conferees are:  Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and Democratic Senators Tim Johnson, Jack Reed, Charles Schumer, Blanche Lincoln, Patrick Leahy and Tom Harkin; Banking Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby and Republican Senators Mike Crapo, Bob Corker, Judd Gregg and Saxby Chambliss.

The House has not named conferees but Financial Service Committee Chairman Barney Frank will chair the conference.  The goal of the White House and Democratic leadership is to complete the conference and pass the bill before the July 4 recess.

There are several provisions buried in the House version of this legislation that have nothing to do with financial services reform.  These provisions would greatly expand the regulatory authority of the FTC over almost every segment of the economy.  The changes include:
  • Repealing the Magnuson Moss rulemaking procedures (including the requirement that an activity be "prevalent" in an industry before Commission action) and allowing the FTC to promulgate broad industry-wide rules on any consumer protection matter in a highly expedited procedure - all done with a lower standard of judicial review;
  • Expanding the FTC's authority to immediately impose potentially multi-million dollar civil monetary penalties for any violation of the FTC Act without the involvement of the Department of Justice;
  • Providing new liability for "aiders and abettors" of companies that violate the FTC Act, potentially putting thousands of companies at risk by running ads.
These changes are not limited to the authority of the FTC over financial products and services.  They would apply to the broad regulatory authority the FTC has over almost every segment of our economy.

These expanded powers are not included in the Senate's version of the financial reform bill.  If these new authorities are to be granted to the FTC, it is critical that they be considered separately as part of legislation to reauthorize the FTC.  They should not be included hastily in the financial reform bill. 

It is very important that marketers immediately contact the Senate conferees as well as House Democratic leadership and members of the House Blue Dog Democratic Caucus to urge them not to include these expanded FTC powers in the final conference committee version of the financial reform bill.  If your company has substantial operations and employees in their home states or districts, let them know.  The letter that ANA sent to the Blue Dogs is available here.

We will let you know when the House conferees are named.  If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Dan Jaffe (djaffe@ana.net) or Keith Scarborough (kscarborough@ana.net) in ANA's Washington, DC office at (202) 296-1883.