March 6 (UPI) -- A bill that would relax key banking regulations imposed after the financial crisis may pass in the Senate this week, and may set up a clash among Democrats.
The first procedural vote to roll back critical parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act -- the Wall Street reform bill signed into law by former President Barack Obama -- is expected to pass the upper chamber within days.
Moderate Democrats and Republicans who support the measure say it is long overdue and will free community banks and credit unions from over-regulation.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other Democratic critics say the legislation merely uses small institutions as cover for loosening rules on major banks -- a measure that could put the entire economy at risk.
"If we lose the final vote ... we'll be paving the way for the next big crash," Warren said. "It's time for the rest of us to fight back and demand that Washington work for us, not the big bank lobbyists."
Democratic backers say the bill can revitalize community banks and help the smaller institutions hold their own against Wall Street giants.
"When you don't respond to these kinds of legitimate concerns from small lenders, there's a resentment to the overall policy," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. "We tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater with that kind of frustration."
The rollbacks would allow easier mortgage regulations for small banks and provide new exemptions from tough oversight for regional banks with $50 billion to $250 billion in assets.
President Donald Trump, who has pledged to "dismantle" Dodd-Frank, met last week with credit union advocates.