January 14, 2019

Weekly Column: Reflections On Success, Achievements At Banking Committee

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Committees are essential to the legislative process.  I am privileged to serve on committees that encourage pro-growth economic policies and prioritize constitutional principles.  Beginning in 2017, I had the honor to begin serving as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, a post that I will continue to hold in the 116th Congress.  In the 115th Congress, we ushered dozens of bills through the committee and into law, exercised important oversight of the financial sector, and confirmed qualified nominees for financial regulatory agencies.

Encouraging Economic Growth: Community banks and credit unions are part of the foundation of towns across America, particularly in rural states like Idaho.  They help families buy homes, pay for college and start businesses.  Beyond this, many sponsor children’s sports teams, food drives and other community service efforts.  Unfortunately, these institutions have struggled to keep up with the ever-increasing regulatory compliance and examiner demands from Washington. 

A pinnacle achievement in the 115th Congress was enactment of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.  This law better enables these institutions to support local communities by directing resources toward what they do best—approving mortgages, lending to small businesses and providing credit to families in their communities.  The law also includes important consumer protections, like the ability to freeze and unfreeze your credit for free.

Holding Foreign Countries Accountable and Protecting National Security Interests: The Banking Committee has jurisdiction over sanctions legislation.  I helped usher the bipartisan Countering Russian Aggression and Cyber Attacks Act through the Senate, which passed by an overwhelmingly, bipartisan vote of 97-2, and was signed into law.  This law substantially expands sanctions against the government of Russia, signaling to the world the United States’ unflagging commitment to the sanctity of territorial integrity, human rights and good governance.

We also passed legislation to modernize and strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  CFIUS reviews certain types of foreign transactions to determine if there is a threat to U.S. national security.  The review process had not been updated in more than a decade, during which time threats to our national security have significantly evolved.  Our legislation will more effectively guard against national security risks posed by certain types of foreign investment. 

Oversight: The Banking Committee serves an important oversight function of the financial sector and the federal banking regulators.  In the 115th Congress, the committee carried out its oversight on issues concerning Second Amendment rights, data privacy and security and bad actors in the financial markets, among others. 

Nominees: One of the committee’s responsibilities is to advance nominees for positions to govern our nation’s fiscal systems.  The Banking Committee approved 41 nominees including the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, responsible for providing the nation with a safe and stable financial system; the Chairman and Commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission, ensuring fair markets to protect investors, and; the Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which protects bank deposits.  The nominees play a crucial role in ensuring Idahoans can bank with confidence, protect their investments for retirement and other purposes, and ensure that financial services and products are available.

Each success was built on years of hard work in and beyond the halls of Congress.  Equally important, each had strong bipartisan support, which will contribute to their long-term success.  As proud as I am of these victories, there is always more to be done.  I look forward to working with members of the committee on both sides of the aisle in the 116th Congress to deliver further results for our country and all of Idaho’s communities.

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