WASHINGTON -- Fresh off winning a second term, Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) used one of his first post-election floor speeches Thursday to call for aggressive steps to roll back banking regulations passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Those rules are likely to get a fresh look from Republican lawmakers, who hope president-elect Donald Trump might support their calls for change. At stake are the Dodd-Frank banking reforms that Democrats argue limits the kind of risky practices widely blamed for cratering the economy and causing widespread job losses. Republicans like Toomey contend the regulations have shackled banks and hampered the economic recovery. He blames the recession not on Wall Street but on flawed federal monetary and housing policies.
The senator, who made his mark in politics as a free-market conservative, but campaigned largely on security issues, urged Republicans to consider using "reconciliation" to repeal parts of Dodd-Frank. That tactic would let the GOP roll back the law with only a majority of votes in the Senate, rather than the 60 typically needed to clear procedural hurdles.
"That's not my preferred way to do it, but we've got to do this. We've got to get this done," Toomey said on the Senate floor. Easing regulations, he said, would loosen the limits on banks and spark economic growth, he argued in a speech that echoed his days as leader of the free-market group The Club for Growth -- one of the biggest financial backers of his reelection. "We've got to enable a vigorous competitive market for financial services."
Democrats pilloried Toomey during the campaign as an ally of big business and Wall Street. He denied that charge, saying fewer regulations would help small businesses thrive and create jobs.
Democrats have signaled that they intend to fight any push to repeal the law, and could have enough votes to block such an effort, unless Republicans turn to the reconciliation tactic Toomey promoted.
"Forget about repealing or modifying Dodd-Frank," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Democrats' incoming Senate leader, told Fox News last month.