Photo: Wall Street Journal

Vote Explanation for H.R. 5143 — Transparent Insurance Standards Act of 2016

In a preview of what is to come in a Republican-controlled Congress and Republican White House, this week the House voted on yet another bill that would undermine the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank).

Following the 2008 financial crisis and the near collapse of large insurance companies including AIG, Dodd-Frank established the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) at the Department of the Treasury, charged with regulating the nation’s insurance industry and representing the interests of U.S. insurers during international negotiations. Together with the the Federal Reserve and state insurance commissioners, the FIO is actively engaged in representing the interests of the United States to ensure that domestic insurers are not at a disadvantage in the international marketplace.

As written, H.R. 5143, the Transparent Insurance Standards Act of 2016, would undermine the ability of the FIO to carry out its important work by imposing strict, unprecedented requirements on U.S. representatives in international insurance negotiations. The bill would require the FIO to report to Congress and wait 90 days before adopting any new international insurance standard. During that time, Congress could take action to either approve or reject the proposal. Additionally, the bill requires that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve achieve “consensus positions” with all 50 state insurance commissioners — a virtually impossible task — before moving forward with an international insurance agreement.

I voted against this legislation because it an attempt to tie the hands of insurance regulators and undermine the work of the FIO. It is ironic that Republicans, who frequently bemoan that there is too much regulation and oversight, would support a bill that adds more “red tape” to our financial regulatory process.