WASHINGTON (1/19/10)--As the Senate begins its portion of the regulatory reform debate, Senate Banking Committee leaders Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) are reportedly considering removing the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency in favor of increasing the consumer protection powers of existing regulatory agencies. Both Dodd and Shelby recently stated that they have made "meaningful progress" in negotiating the structure of the Senate version of a financial regulatory reform bill. The proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which was passed by the House, alongside a series of comprehensive financial regulatory reform measures, just before the recently completed winter break, would seek to protect consumers of financial products through the creation of a powerful independent agency with extensive rulemaking, oversight, and enforcement tools. However, there were a number of changes made to the agency before it passed the house, including language which exempted all credit unions with under $10 billion in assets from the authority of the agency. Legislators are reportedly considering a wide range of alternatives to the CFPA, including a council of regulators that would collaborate to create and enforce consumer protection measures, and creating a consumer protection division at the Department of Treasury. Ryan Donovan, CUNA vice president of legislative affairs, said that details of the various proposals have not been made available and no decision on how to proceed in the Senate has likely been made. "We will evaluate any new consumer agency proposal as we have the CFPA and other proposals: what is the likely affect of the proposal on credit unions' ability to serve their members, and how can we eliminate or minimize any adverse impact on credit unions and their members?" Donovan said. Dodd, who will retire after his replacement is elected this Nov., introduced his own regulatory reform proposal late last year. However, after that proposal failed to gain support in the Senate from Republicans and some Democrats, Dodd announced the creation of bi-partisan pairs of Senators to work on the major components of regulatory restructuring legislation. The Senate Banking Committee could begin to mark-up regulatory restructuring legislation as early as February, Donovan said.