AFR Criticizes Senate Vote To Consider Bank Deregulation Bill, While ICBA Applauds It

Statement from AFRand ICBA  on Senate Vote on S. 2155

“Congress ought to spend its time addressing the student loan crisis, cracking down on serial lawbreakers like Wells Fargo, and ensuring companies like Equifax pay a meaningful price for massive data breeches — not deregulating the financial services industry,” said Lisa Donner, executive director, Americans for Financial Reform.  “Too many Senators seem willing to ignore the lessons of the financial crisis, and what happens when we let big banks write the rules of the economy. Millions of Americans know the costs all too well and will take notice of how members vote on passage of this harmful legislation.”

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If it is enacted, S. 2155 would be the largest banking deregulation measure to become law since the 2008 financial crisis by repealing parts of the Dodd-Frank act. The bill, which has bipartisan support in the Senate, would reduce oversight on 25 of the 38 largest banks in the United States. It would also curb important consumer-protection measures in housing.

Ten years after a financial crisis that nearly brought on a second Great Depression, public sentiment runs strongly against the direction of this bill and Dodd-Frank remains popular. A new survey from Public Policy Polling tested arguments for and against the bill, and found 64 percent of respondents opposed, with only 25 percent in support. Backing is strong across demographics. This result is consistent with 5 years of public opinion research by AFR that has found solid support for tough regulation and enforcement of rules on Wall Street. Grassroots pushback to the legislation has been fierce, with groups such as Indivisible, MoveOn, Credo, and Organizing for Action (since Dodd-Frank is an important Obama legacy) lobbying Democratic senators to oppose the bill.

The marquee provision of this bill would eliminate the enhanced supervision that Congress imposed on banks with assets between $50 and $250 billion. Some people call them the “stadium banks” because so many of these banks purchased naming rights: M&T in Baltimore, Comerica in Detroit, Citizens Bank in Philadelphia, and more). Financial institutions between $50 and $250 billion in size, such as Countrywide, were significant contributors to the 2008 financial crisis. Wall Street giants including Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase would benefit from other provisions as well.

Americans for Financial Reform Criticizes Senate Vote to Consider Bank Deregulation Bill

Washington, D.C (March 6, 2018)—With the Senate beginning to vote today on the bipartisan Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), the Independent Community Bankers of America® is reiterating its strong support for this pro-community bank legislation. The ICBA-advocated bill would stimulate local economic growth by providing much-needed relief to community banks while preserving vital consumer protections and effective regulatory supervision.

“S. 2155 offers common-sense relief for our nation’s nearly 5,700 community banks to promote localized lending and economic growth,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “If you’re against S. 2155, you’re against community banks and the communities they support.”

S. 2155 includes numerous provisions from ICBA’s pro-growth Plan for Prosperity platform to:

  • provide “qualified mortgage” status for portfolio mortgage loans at most community banks,
  • exempt certain community bank loans from escrow requirements,
  • simplify community bank capital requirements,
  • create a short-form call report for use in the first and third quarters by certain well-rated community banks,
  • expand eligibility for the 18-month regulatory exam cycle to more community banks,
  • ease appraisal requirements to facilitate mortgage credit in local, rural communities,
  • exempt most community banks from the Volcker Rule,
  • expand access to the Federal Reserve’s Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement to help more community banks build capital,
  • improve regulatory treatment of reciprocal deposits and certain municipal securities, and
  • provide relief for larger community banks, including higher asset thresholds for systemically important financial institution designations, and easing of stress testing and formal risk committee requirements.

“S. 2155 enjoys broad bipartisan support because it offers pro-growth relief for Main Street—not Wall Street,” said ICBA Chairman Scott Heitkamp, president and CEO of ValueBank Texas in Corpus Christi. “Any senator who supports their state’s community banks and believes in our mission to serve local communities should vote in favor of this critical legislation.”

S. 2155 has 26 bipartisan co-sponsors, including 13 Republicans, 12 Democrats and one Independent. For a comprehensive look at ICBA and community banker advocacy on behalf of this legislation, visit ICBA’s “Community Bankers Support S. 2155” webpage. For more information on what’s in S. 2155, view ICBA’s summary of the bill’s key provisions by asset size.

About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for nearly 5,700 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.