Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, has outlined his committee agenda for the 116th Congress. The Committee will continue to identify and move bipartisan legislative solutions that promote economic growth; build a record for legislative action on the collection, use and protection of personally identifiable information by financial regulators and financial companies; advance presidentially-appointed nominees; and ensure federal agencies implement the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA), Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) consistent with congressional intent.
Housing finance reform is the last piece of unaddressed business from the financial crisis. But, more than a decade after the crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain in conservatorship. In 2014, the Senate Banking Committee favorably reported bipartisan housing finance reform legislation. Since then, a number of groups have released proposals for reform. The Committee will assess these and other proposals to determine how we can fix the flawed system, establish appropriate levels of taxpayer protection, preserve the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, increase competition among mortgage guarantors and promote access to affordable housing.
EGRRCPA included provisions to enhance the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Family Self-Sufficiency program and streamline compliance burdens on smaller Public Housing Authorities. The Committee will work to identify additional opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of HUD programs, and will consider updates to Title VI of the Violence Against Women Act.
Capital markets are vital to facilitating job growth and expanding American investment opportunities. Last Congress, the House of Representatives passed the JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018 by a vote of 406 to 4. The Banking Committee held two legislative hearings on thirteen bills related to capital formation and corporate governance, as well as a hearing on proxy advisers. The Committee will continue its work to quickly identify what bipartisan bills should be considered to encourage capital formation, reduce burdens for smaller businesses and improve corporate governance.
Data Collection, Privacy and Security
The collection, protection and use of personally identifiable information by both the government and private companies deserves close scrutiny. Recent large-scale data breaches highlighted the importance of not only protecting consumers’ information, but the need to provide consumers with more control over what information is collected and how such information is used. We need legislative solutions to give consumers more control over and enhanced protection of consumer financial data, and to ensure consumers are notified of breaches in a timely and consistent manner.
EGRRCPA includes provisions that require nationwide credit bureaus to give consumers the option to freeze their credit for free, and to provide free credit monitoring to active duty military service members. In addition, the law requires the nationwide credit bureaus to create webpages linked to a Federal Trade Commission website with information on credit freezes, fraud alerts, active duty alerts and pre-screen opt-outs. The Committee will continue to explore targeted reforms, such as making it easier for consumers to interface with credit bureaus generally and dispute inaccuracies.
FinTech is providing new and innovative products and services in areas such as marketplace lending, digital payments and currencies, wealth management, insurance and more. As this sector continues to grow, it is worth examining what improvements can be made to ensure the regulatory landscape welcomes that innovation.
In 2017, CAATSA was signed into law, substantially expanding sanctions on Russia. In addition to continued oversight of CAATSA implementation, the Committee will consider what additional, targeted steps should be taken, if any, to apply further pressure on Russia, North Korea and Iran.
FIRRMA and the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA) each recognized that the foreign investment and national security landscape has changed significantly over the past decade, particularly with regard to new and evolving threats posed by Chinese foreign investment and other threats it presents to U.S. critical technologies. As the Committee monitors implementation of FIRRMA, the CFIUS process and ECRA, it will also evaluate the potential that export controls and sanctions may yet have to provide additional tools to combat predatory Chinese acquisitions of U.S. technology and intellectual property.
The Committee also held several hearings last Congress to lay the groundwork for modernizing the decades-old anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership regime. Going forward, we will consider appropriate ways to advance innovation and coordination to protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system in a smart way.
The Committee will continue to monitor operations of the federal agencies within its jurisdiction and examine whether the regulators are properly implementing recently-enacted laws. This includes the Federal Reserve, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of Currency, National Credit Union Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. In particular, the Committee will continue to examine whether the regulations, guidance and supervisory expectations are consistent with the intent of the sponsors of EGRRCPA. The agencies have proposed other rules to right-size regulations, and the Committee will closely monitor progress to final rules.
In order to improve transparency and accountability, the Committee will also continue to review the benefits of agencies that have a bipartisan commission, rather than a single director; a Congressional funding mechanism; and a safety and soundness focus.
The Committee will also conduct oversight over the Treasury and Commerce agencies tasked with national security and law enforcement missions. At Treasury, these offices include the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); and the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which is comprised of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes (TFFC), and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The Committee also oversees the operation of the Bureau of Industry and Security at the Department of Commerce which promotes U.S. strategic technology leadership through advancing the national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives of the U.S. export control and treaty compliance system.
Access to Credit
Access to financial services is vital for economic development. The Committee will continue to examine whether regulation should be tailored for financial companies to ensure they can adequately deliver credit to local communities. Similarly, the Committee will conduct oversight when financial companies use their market power to manage social policy by withholding access to credit or services to customers and industries they disfavor.
# # #