Relief for Main Street

About S.2155

In November 2017, Senator Warner joined with 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. This bipartisan legislation provides relief for main street consumers, farmers, and small businesses by reducing regulatory burdens on community banks and credit unions. It also creates a number of new protections for Virginia 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).

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. This legislation 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.

Consumer Protections

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S.2155) ensures that small lenders can provide mortgage and other credit to hardworking Americans, helping them and their families grow and start businesses. The bill also institutes several important consumer protections:

  • Allows consumers to get one free year of fraud alerts, which will help consumers who have been impacted by situations like the Wells Fargo scandal or whose identities or personal information has been stolen.
  • Unlimited free credit freezes and unfreezes, which helps consumers impacted by data breaches like the Equifax hack that compromised the personal information of approximately 145 million Americans.
  • Provides free credit monitoring for all active-duty servicemembers.
  • Protects 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 report.
  • Prevents mortgage companies from immediately kicking tenants out of their rentals if the landlord is foreclosed upon.
  • Encourages banks to report suspicious behavior if seniors could be getting financially scammed.
  • Allows seriously delinquent private student loan borrowers a one-time offer to remove negative reporting from their credit reports after making a series of on-time payments.

Mortgage Credit & Housing

This legislation acknowledges that homeownership is a key to the American dream. That’s why this bill makes it easier for small financial institutions to lend to families, while keeping key consumer protections in place. Specifically, it:

  • Allows financial institutions with less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets to offer “qualified mortgages” if held in portfolio with consumer protections, under certain circumstances, giving them the ability to offer more financing options.
  • Allows small financial institutions to opt out of certain escrow requirements in order to lower closing costs for consumers.
  • Reduces paperwork requirements for rural housing authorities that support fewer than 550 households.

Relief for Main Street Banks

Community banks, credit unions, and regional banks do not pose the same risk as Wall Street banks, which is why this bill tailors regulation appropriately. Specifically, it:

  • Expands the number of banks eligible for an 18-month examination cycle; this
  • will apply to banks under $3 billion in total consolidated assets.
  • Cuts reporting requirements for depository institutions with less than $5 billion in total consolidated assets.
  • Exempts community banks with less than $10 billion in assets from complicated global capital standards, known as Basel III, as long as the bank is highly capitalized.
  • Allows banks with under $3 billion in total consolidated assets to use the Small Bank Company Policy Holding Statement, allowing them to operate with higher levels of debt.
  • Allows banks with minimal trading activities and less than $10 billion to be exempt from the Volcker rule, saving community banks time and money from a rule meant for Wall Street banks.
  • Raises the threshold for systemically important financial institutions from $50 billion to $100 billion in total consolidated assets, requires stress tests for all banks above $100 billion and allows the Federal Reserve the ability to apply and tailor regulations for banks in between $100 billion and $250 billion.

Fact Sheets