May 21, 2015

Crapo: Operation Choke Point Undermines Second Amendment Rights

Senatorâ??s amendment to prohibit banking regulators from implementing or participating in the DOJ-led program approved by Banking Committee

Washington, D.C. -An amendment offered by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo in opposition to the controversial U.S. Department of Justice-led program known as Operation Choke Point was approved by the Senate Banking Committee this afternoon. Building on previous legislation Crapo secured in the final budget agreement, the Senator called the passage of today's amendment the next step in ensuring the program does not become an end-run around the Second Amendment.  The Idaho Senator says he has heard from several Idaho business owners involved in the guns and ammunition sector who have experienced difficulty obtaining essential banking services as a result of fear and uncertainty on the part of banks due to the program.   

"I think most Americans would be shocked to realize that the Department of Justice is engaged in a program where it has actually designated entire industries that are legal in the U.S. as 'high risk' industries that should be stopped from participating in our economy," said Crapo during the hearing. 

"That is the one accurate thing about this whole program is the name they gave it---Operation Choke Point.  The entire approach [of the program] is to choke out of our economy those industries that are deemed to be objectionable…My amendment simply says that we are not going to allow our banking and credit union regulators to participate with the DOJ in this tyranny."

To view Crapo's remarks on YouTube, click  here .   

Background:

In 2013, news reports surfaced regarding a Department of Justice-led initiative that targets certain industries' ability to access banking services without first showing that the company is breaking the law. 

Rather than targeting bad actors for illegal activity, this effort, known as Operation Choke Point, is causing banks to deny or terminate credit lines to legitimate, law-abiding businesses due to fear of DOJ subpoenas or unjustified regulatory action by federal banking regulators. 

Crapo previously offered a deficit-neutral reserve fund amendment to end the program during the budget process.  It was approved by a bipartisan vote of 13-9 during the Senate Budget Committee's markup of the Senate's budget blueprint and was later included in the final budget agreement passed by the Senate.

Today's amendment takes the next step by prohibiting the federal banking and credit union regulators from implementing or participating in the DOJ's Operation Choke Point.

 

Additionally, the amendment would not inhibit the enforcement of anti-fraud laws.  All the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-fraud statutes would continue in force and effect just as they did before the initiation of Operation Choke Point.