Make sure financial reform stays strong before the final vote

Now that the U.S. Senate has voted to limit further debate on the financial reform bill (S. 3217), there are less than 30 hours left to debate and vote on remaining amendments. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition has summarized the some of the critical areas that still need to be addressed.

Call 202-224-3121 or click here to contact your senator about the following issues:

Independent and Effective Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA)

The Senate has placed the consumer protection agency under the auspices of the Federal Reserve and made it subject to review, consultation and veto from the bank regulatory agencies. We need a strong consumer agency to protect communities and consumers against abusive lending and other financial products.

Support Reed and Durbin amendment to strengthen the agency: Reed and Durbin are attempting to propose an amendment that would remove the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from the Federal Reserve and establish it as an independent agency with jurisdiction over all the consumer protection and fair lending laws including the Community Reinvestment Act. Another positive Reed amendment would remove the power of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to veto proposed consumer protection rules of the CFPB.

Oppose Shelby, Hatch, Enzi weakening amendments: An amendment from Senator Shelby would freeze the CFPB’s budget and prevent it from being adjusted to take inflation into account. All of these amendments are designed to do the same thing: significantly undermine the power and authority of the consumer protection body to propose rules or investigate financial institutions.

Oppose Brownback auto dealer exemption amendment: Numerous amendments attempt to create carve outs from consumer regulation. Tell your senators to oppose carve outs for special interests. The most threatening amendment is one from Senator Brownback that would exempt car dealers. A car or truck can be one of the biggest financial transactions of an American’s lifetime, they should be protected under the consumer agency just like other extensions of credit.

Data and Transparency Measures

Publicly available data on lending holds financial institutions accountable for providing responsible loans and financial services to hard-working and creditworthy Americans regarding of where they live or the color of their skin. The Senate earlier stripped out a provision that expanded data regarding bank branching and deposits. We need you to remind your Senators about the importance of data and transparency —we want to make sure that these critical elements stay in the bill.

• The data provisions that are still in the Senate bill must stay in, as they will improve the publicly available data on small business lending to include the race and gender of the small business owner receiving loans. The bill as it currently is will enhance the publicly available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data to include information on loan terms and conditions, such as whether loans have prepayment penalties and whether their interest rates are fixed or variable. More data and transparency increases the number of responsible loans to all communities and enables them to buy homes, start small businesses, and generate more jobs. Senators need to ensure these elements of the bill stay in.

Support an End to the Casino Economy and Proprietary Trading

• Support the Merkley-Levin Amendment that would ban risky proprietary trading and Goldman-style conflicts of interest by banks receiving federal funds.

For more information, contact Tom Feltner at 312.368.0310 or tfeltner@woodstockinst.org.