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Rep. Conor Lamb discusses bank regulation vote, other issues at 1st town hall |

Rep. Conor Lamb discusses bank regulation vote, other issues at 1st town hall

Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon, left, answered questions at Moon Area Secondary Campus on Saturday, April 13, 2018, during his first town hall meeting since his March 13, 2018 election. TV journalist Michael Bartley, right, moderated the Q&A.

New Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb on Saturday explained the first vote he cast in Congress, supporting a bill to exempt some banks from prohibitions on risky trading.

Lamb, 33, of Mt. Lebanon, voted for the bill April 13, a day after he was sworn in following his victory in a March special election. The bill exempts banks with less than $10 billion in assets from the Volcker Rule, part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

Small banks such as WesBanco, Standard Bank, S&T Bank and Washington Financial don’t engage in the type of risky trading that the big banks did before the financial crisis of 2008, and complying with the rule is an unnecessary burden for them, Lamb said.

He said he supports broader Dodd-Frank rules regulating mortgages, subjecting large banks to stress tests and regulating the types of derivatives involved in the real estate bubble before the financial crisis.

“They just need a little fine-tuning in this instance,” Lamb said of the rules.

The House passed the bill with support from 222 Republicans and 78 Democrats. It will require approval from the Senate and the president to become law.

Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus, of Sewickley, also voted for the change, which, in addition to exempting small banks, gives the Federal Reserve exclusive authority to regulate the Volcker Rule, now regulated by several different agencies.

Lamb explained the vote in response to a question about it during a town hall-style meeting Saturday in Moon. The meeting was Lamb’s first town hall since defeating Republican Rick Saccone in a March 13 special election to replace former Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned last year amid an extramarital affair scandal.

Lamb now is running against Rothfus in the newly drawn 17th Congressional District, which is made up of Beaver County and parts of Allegheny and Butler counties.

At the meeting, Lamb also said he supports passing legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller — who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — from being fired by President Donald Trump.

Lamb said he wants to keep protections for immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and that he wants to combine those protections with “enhanced border security,” particularly at established border checkpoints, where he said drugs are more likely to enter the country than across remote areas.

He said added security and the DACA protections go hand in hand, adding, “the president even seems to agree with that, on certain days.”

He reiterated his support for improving the country’s background check system as a way to prevent gun violence, saying legislation that does that has the best chance among gun safety proposals of passing Congress.

“We need to pass a bill that at least achieves the thing that everybody says they agree on,” he said.

When asked about potentially allowing medical marijuana to be used to help treat opioid addiction, Lamb said he supports the federal government easing restrictions on medical marijuana research but doesn’t believe the science is well enough established to support using it to help treat opioid addiction.

He said he supports the Affordable Care Act and doesn’t believe “Medicare for all” proposals have been developed thoroughly enough — including finding ways to pay for it — for him to support it yet.

He said he supports student loan forgiveness proposals and might support the federal government paying down some student debt, likening that idea to the federal government’s bailouts of the banking and auto industries.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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