Frank announced Monday he would not seek another term, prompting analysts to wonder how the landmark Dodd-Frank law would fare, as Republicans and Wall Street groups try to tear away at it.
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"Once (Dodd-Frank) is fully implemented - I think it will be in another year - it is much harder for people to get rid of, because I think it will be popular," the 30-year House veteran told reporters. "The easiest chance you get to strangle something is in the early stages."
The Dodd-Frank financial reform overhaul last year aimed to curb the excessive Wall Street risk-taking that nearly leveled the financial system.
It subjected the $600 trillion global derivatives market to regulation, increased banking oversight and created a new consumer protection bureau, among other measures.
Republican presidential candidates say Dodd-Frank burdens the sputtering economy while the unemployment rate is stuck at 9 percent. They have vowed to repeal the law even as regulators are still putting it into effect.
Frank acknowledged that the election of a Republican president next year would be the biggest threat to the law, while noting that agency funding and nominations remain sticky issues.
He criticized Republicans for holding up a confirmation vote on Richard Cordray, the nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by Dodd-Frank.
Frank also had harsh words for proponents of funding cuts for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and other agencies critical to Dodd-Frank rulemaking.
"People who voted not to fund the CFTC, who then criticize it for not doing MF Global, are really being terribly hypocritical," he said, referring to the brokerage which collapsed on Oct. 31.
Once run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, MF Global filed for Chapter 11 protection after the New York-based company revealed a $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; editing by Carol Bishopric)