Nov 17 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today joined Republicans and Democrats, including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), to introduce the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, bipartisan legislation to reduce regulatory burdens on community banks and credit unions and provide new protections to consumers.
The legislation is the result of bipartisan negotiations among Warner, Crapo, and Banking Committee members Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
“This bipartisan bill is the result of years of tough negotiations among Democrats and Republicans,” said Sen. Warner. “The goal is simple: to help Main Street by rolling back unnecessary and burdensome regulations on credit unions and small community banks while ensuring that larger banks remain subject to the rules I helped put in place after the financial crisis to prevent another meltdown on Wall Street. This proposal makes targeted, commonsense fixes that will provide tangible relief to the community banks that are lifelines for smaller and rural communities. It also strengthens protections for veterans, the elderly and other consumers, and encourages community-based lending to boost economic growth and create jobs.”
“A strong and vibrant economy is important for American consumers, businesses, and the stability of the financial sector,” said Chairman Crapo. “The bipartisan proposals on which we have agreed will significantly improve our financial regulatory framework and foster economic growth by right-sizing regulation, particularly for smaller financial institutions and community banks.”
Following the 2008 financial meltdown, Sen. Warner helped write and pass into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and he continues to support the important reforms included in the law. The legislation introduced today is carefully written to provide needed regulatory relief to main street—community banks and credit unions—which were inadvertently burdened by rules and regulations intended to hold Wall Street accountable. This bill will promote economic growth by making commonsense reforms to increase consumer lending, while protecting consumers.
Among provisions in the regulatory relief package are several proposals to protect and deliver relief to Virginia consumers:
- Community Banks and Credit Unions: This package includes a number of provisions related to community banks and credit unions that would increase their ability to extend credit to Virginia small businesses and families, while maintaining important consumer protections.
- Free Annual Credit Freeze for Consumers: This provision would require credit bureaus to include one free credit freeze and a free credit unfreeze per year, which would help protect consumers after the massive Equifax data breach that may have compromised the personal information of approximately 145 million Americans.
- Protecting Veterans Credit: This provision would protect the credit ratings of veterans wrongly penalized by medical bill payment delays by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This measure would prohibit medical debt from services received through the Choice Program and other VA community care programs from being reported to credit reporting agencies for one year. In addition it would establish a dispute process for veterans seeking to remove adverse actions already on their reports.
“I thank Virginia's Congressional Delegation for their support of this legislation. Virginia's more than 725,000 veterans have served and sacrificed for our Nation and our Commonwealth. This service can sometimes lead to wounds and injuries that require ongoing care - which is not always fully covered by their veterans benefits. When they must incur out of pocket expenses for themselves and their families’ medical care, we must ensure that this does not also come with a bad credit score that could affect them for years to come. This bill will help our veterans in addressing credit issues or preventing a small credit problem from escalating,” said Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins.
Virginia Bankers Association (VBA) President and CEO Bruce Whitehurst stated, “This package represents an important first step toward better tailoring of regulation to allow banks to serve their customers and communities more effectively and efficiently, much to their benefit. This bipartisan compromise also underscores the fact that the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 took the regulatory pendulum too far and created unintended consequences for borrowers. It is great to see movement toward a more balanced approach to financial regulation and we appreciate the leadership of Senators Warner and Kaine.”
“This is a major step forward. Our community bankers are eager to do more to build their local economies, but over-regulation holds them back. The best provisions in this bill make getting a mortgage less complicated and more possible, and other good provisions simplify rules and reports, freeing bankers to do more good work with their customers and their communities,” said Virginia Association of Community Banks (VACB) President Steve Yeakel. “In particular, we want to acknowledge the leadership of both Senator Warner, who helped to forge the compromise, and Senator Kaine, whose early support gives the bill a strong foundation and a real chance at success on the Senate floor.”
“ICBA strongly supports the bipartisan regulatory relief package announced today and thanks Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo and Sens. Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester and Mark Warner for driving this agreement,” Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “Community bank regulatory relief is needed to improve lending and strengthen economic growth at the local level. We are pleased to see many provisions of ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity included in the agreement and thank all senators from both sides of the aisle who have contributed to this important initiative.”
“NAFCU thanks Chairman Crapo and his Democratic partners in the Senate for including provisions in this package that would lead to regulatory relief for credit unions,” said National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) President and CEO Dan Berger. “We look forward to working with members of the Senate Banking Committee, their staff and other senators as this package moves through the legislative process. This bill is a step in the right direction, and we will continue to push for more relief for the industry and its 110 million member-owners.”
“This bill includes credit union-specific provisions that provide meaningful regulatory relief, a sign that policymakers are paying close attention to the needs of credit union members,” Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Jim Nussle said. “We thank Sen. Crapo and his colleagues for working across party lines to advance regulatory relief legislation, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them as the bill moves through the legislative process.”
In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the bill was introduced by Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). Republican sponsors of the bill are Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bob Corker (R-TN), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), David Perdue (R-GA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Kennedy (R-LA), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jim Risch (R-ID). The bipartisan bill was also sponsored by Sen. Angus King (I-ME).