Weekly Column: Reflecting On Banking Committee Chairmanship
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
In the 116th Congress, I had the great honor of serving my second term as the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over the financial system, from housing to sanctions to transit. Much of the term was focused on the implementation and oversight of laws passed in the previous congressional session and on several important reauthorizations. However, as the pandemic spread rapidly across the world, Congress was tasked with confronting an unexpected challenge unlike many have experienced in this lifetime. As head of the Banking Committee, I helped lead negotiations in crafting major legislation to stabilize markets, facilitate credit flow and provide liquidity to limit the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is a brief review of these and other actions of the Committee over the past Congress.
Implementing Pro-Growth Policies
- Enactment of the bipartisan Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act in 2018 is one of my greatest achievements as Chairman. This law provided significant regulatory relief to small financial institutions crushed by a regulatory regime designed for the largest, most complex financial institutions. In the 116th Congress, I worked closely on implementation of this law and a number of other regulatory initiatives prompting banking regulators to right-size regulations, resulting in pro-jobs, pro-growth policies.
- I led negotiations on major CARES Act provisions designed to provide economic support to severely distressed sectors of the U.S. economy. This included the aforementioned provisions to stabilize markets, and other critical measures like legislation that provided the vast majority of American homeowners with the opportunity to hit the pause button on their mortgage payments, and temporarily halt evictions on all federally-backed rental units.
Protecting National Security Interests—Several pieces of legislation in the Committee’s jurisdiction were signed into law that help protect our markets and communities against bad actors and hold foreign adversaries accountable:
- The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, giving law enforcement agencies tools needed to protect against threats, while ensuring only minimal impact on legitimate business;
- Legislation strengthening and expanding U.S. sanctions on North Korea and its financial supporters;
- Legislation providing more support and tools to combat the trafficking of opioids into the U.S. from China, Mexico and elsewhere;
- The Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act to prevent the use of federal funds to purchase rail cars or buses manufactured by China owned, controlled or subsidized companies; and
- The bipartisan Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) and the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) to enhance the federal government’s ability to address steps by China and other nations to acquire technologies and know-how key to U.S. national security.
Reauthorizations—As Chairman, I also worked to secure several long-term reauthorizations, which included important reforms:
- A seven-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank’s charter with reforms to help the U.S. better compete against foreign governments, like China, and increased support for U.S. small businesses;
- A seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, with important taxpayer reforms; and
- An extension of the current surface transportation authorization bill, the FAST Act, providing certainty to our nation’s transportation infrastructure through September 30, 2021.
Oversight—The Committee also conducted considerable oversight, looking into issues such as concerns with Facebook’s cryptocurrency project and pushing for fair access to banking, in light of reports of lenders discriminating against entire industries, such as firearms manufacturers.
These are just some of the various actions of the Banking Committee over the 116th Congress. I am deeply proud of the bipartisan work we were able to steadily carryout for the American people that helps set a strong foundation for the Senate’s work ahead in the 117th Congress.
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