The 118th Congress has started unlike any Congress in the last 100 years. The election of Kevin McCarty from California as Speaker of the House, took five days and fifteen ballots on the house floor. The messy floor fight serves as a preview of what we expect to be a tumultuous couple of years in Congress. The Republicans hold the majority in the US House of Representatives by a slim four seat margin. With that small of a majority, it is going to be very difficult to get 218 members of the house to pass any piece of legislation. Even if they are able to move legislation through the House, it then has to garner 60 votes in the US Senate where the Democrats hold a one seat majority. Below are a list of topics and priorities we expect to work on over the next two years. If you would like to help us move our public policy agenda forward, please consider participating in the OBL Washington DC Fly In schedule for February 28th through March 2nd Register here.
The Republican caucus in the House has already stated they plan to do significant oversight of the Biden administration, now that they have subpoena power in the House. Chairman of the Financial Services Committee Patrick McHenry (R-NC) plans to do broad oversight of the federal banking regulators. Some topics we expect them to push back on the regulators are, ESG mandates, the CFPB’s crusade against legitimate fees, and the Federal Reserve’s effort to create a central bank digital currency.
The OBL has received intel that the House and Senate plan to start work on legislation for digital assets as soon as next week. We expect this to be one of the only areas that can achieve bipartisan support. Ensuring cryptocurrency companies and exchanges that engage in bank-like activity have bank-like regulation is a priority for the OBL in these discussions. We are pushing for a clear regulatory regime to ensure that consumers are protected from some of the crypto industry’s abuses we have seen in recent months.
We will be working to pass The SAFE Banking Act, to allow Ohio banks to provide financial services to the cannabis industry and ancillary businesses. Strong bipartisan support will be needed to pass this legislation which became more difficult to achieve now that Republicans have taken control of the House.
OBL will continue our constant advocacy that the credit union tax free status should be ended. Additionally, we will be pushing legislation that if a credit union buys a bank or offers subordinated debt, they should be required to file for a bank charter.
OBL believes Congress should pass data security legislation that holds retailers and others to high, uniform, nationwide standards for safeguarding sensitive customer information. Banks have had such an obligation to protect their customer's sensitive financial information for years. OBL also is advocating that those responsible for data breaches should be responsible for their costs.
OBL supports the reintroduction of The Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America act, a bill that removes the taxation on income from farm real estate loans that are made by FDIC backed financial institutions.
Federal Reserve Accounts:
Senator Brown has long been an advocate for a quasi-public bank option where the non-banked can open federal reserve accounts. The so-called public option would allow users to cash paychecks and receive government benefits, such as refunds from a new child tax credit that he and other Senate Democrats have proposed. The OBL is opposed to any effort to create new government-sponsored competition for the banking industry and will strongly oppose these efforts.
Fintech/ILC Charter Moratorium:
Senator Brown will likely reintroduce legislation that would require all new ILC charters to be subjected to the Bank Holding Company Act. We will advocate for passage of that legislation as we believe the issue deserve public debate in Congress not unilateral decisions at the regulatory agencies.
OBL will continue our advocacy for long term reauthorization and reforms of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Interest Rate Cap:
The OBL opposes any legislative proposals that would impose a national 36% “all in” interest rate cap severally reducing access to capital for consumers.
Housing Related Items:
Senator Brown has made statements in the past that during his term as Chair of the US Senate Banking Committee there will be a renewed focus on housing. This could include additional eviction moratorium, GSE reforms, fighting homelessness and discrimination. Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson has also been named as Chairman of the Housing and Insurance subcommittee of House Financial Services. We look forward to working with the two Ohio Chairman on housing related issues.
The OBL opposes legislation that would prohibit depository institutions from charging customers more than one overdraft fee in a month and more than six overdraft fees in a year.
The OBL opposes any legislative proposal that would broaden the postal services financial offerings and make the Postal Service a government-endorsed provider competing with taxpayer banks.
Tax Information Reporting:
The OBL opposes any legislative efforts and proposals to require financial institutions to report to the IRS information on gross inflows and outflows of all accounts above a certain de minimis level.
If you would like to help us move our public policy agenda forward, please consider participating in the OBL Washington DC Fly In schedule for February 28th through March 2nd Register here.