CBA Letter re HFSC Markup on H.R. 4607 & H.R. 1264

January 16, 2017

 

The Honorable Jeb Hensarling                                           The Honorable Maxine Waters

Chairman                                                                            Ranking Member

House Financial Services Committee                                House Financial Services Committee

2129 Rayburn House Office Building                               2129 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C.  20515                                                  Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairman Hensarling and Ranking Member Waters:

 

The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Committee’s consideration of a number of bills aimed at providing financial regulatory relief.  CBA supports H.R. 4607, the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act, to eliminate unnecessary and duplicative regulations allowing our member institutions to better serve their customers.  However, CBA has strong concerns about H.R. 1264, the Community Financial Institution Exemption Act, as it would create an arbitrary asset threshold for consumer protection.  CBA is the voice of the retail banking industry whose products and services provide access to credit to millions of consumers and small businesses.  Our members operate in all 50 states, serve more than 150 million Americans and collectively hold two-thirds of the country’s total depository assets.

 

H.R. 4607, the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act

CBA supports H.R. 4607, the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act.  Amending the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act (EGRPRA) to bring consistency amongst all the depository institution regulators by incorporating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under its framework is an important step that will promote regulations that better serve consumers and businesses.  In addition to requiring all of the financial services regulatory bodies to identify redundant or unduly burdensome regulatory requirements imposed on depository institutions, increasing the frequency of reviews from a 10-year to a 7-year cycle will help regulators modify, streamline, and repeal outdated regulations.  

 

CBA encourages increased coordination between regulatory agencies and the reduction of unnecessary duplication that limits a consumer’s access to financial products.  Congress should waste no time and pass this common sense legislation. 

 

H.R. 1264, the Community Financial Institution Exemption Act

While CBA supports the idea of tailored regulations, CBA has strong concerns about H.R. 1264, the Community Financial Institution Exemption Act, as it would create an arbitrary asset threshold for consumer protection.

 

CBA agrees a number of CFPB rules and regulations have resulted in unintended consequences, limiting consumer and small business access to credit due to regulatory overreach in many instances.  However, this legislation would provide a default exemption for banks and credit unions under $50 billion in assets from any future CFPB action, regardless of merit.  Only when the Bureau and the prudential regulator agree a specific rule or regulation addresses a harmful pattern or practice of an exempted financial institution will such CFPB action apply.  As a result, future consumer protections will vary across institutions. 

 

The Community Financial Institution Exemption Act picks winners and losers among financial institutions and consumers by creating a bifurcated approach to consumer protection.  A consumer who chooses to bank at small institution should receive the same protections as a consumer who banks at a larger institution.  For example, a consumer at a small institution may not receive the same disclosure they may receive from a large or regional bank.  Moreover, varying consumer protections will only result in further uncoordinated and inconsistent regulation.  The uniform application of consumer protection regulation is important for consumers and the industry as a whole.

 

CBA stands ready to work with Congress to ensure a sound regulatory framework for financial institutions and promote competition in the financial marketplace.  On behalf of the members of CBA, we appreciate the opportunity to submit this letter. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Richard Hunt

 

President and CEO

Consumer Bankers Association