The House unanimously passed the National Security Foreign Investment Reform and Strengthened Transparency Act on Feb. 28.
The National Security First bill, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the House Financial Services financial institutions subcommittee, is designed to strengthen the system by which foreign investment in U.S. businesses is vetted for security concerns.
The bill would require congressional notification after each security investigation, and it would require the Treasury and Homeland Security secretaries or deputy secretaries to sign off on all but routine approvals.
A similar bill passed the House last year after the revelation that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved a deal to sell the operations of major U.S. ports to a company owned by the Dubai government. The House and Senate could not agree on a compromise last session.
Bankers had been concerned that if the United States shunted foreign investments here, U.S. banks would be penalized with similar protectionist treatment abroad, but bankers generally support the bill, because it would not upend the flow of foreign investments.
The bill's odds are unclear. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., has flagged it is an issue but has not drafted a bill yet.
Transparent ReportingHR 755
The House unanimously passed the Promoting Transparency in Financial Reporting Act on Feb. 27.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., would require the chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to testify annually before the House Financial Services Committee on their efforts to increase transparency in financial reporting.
The agencies would be required to focus particularly on efforts to reassess complex and outdated accounting standards; improve the understandability, consistency, and overall usability of accounting and auditing literature; develop principles-based accounting standards; encourage the use and acceptance of interactive data; and promote disclosures in plain English.
The House approved a similar bill last session.
The House passed the Depository Institution Community Development Investments Enhancement Act on Feb. 27 by voice vote.
The bill, sponsored by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., and by Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the committee's ranking Republican, was included in the House's regulatory relief bill last year but was cut from the final version that the Senate approved.
The bill would make it easier for banks and thrifts to make community development investments in areas designated for redevelopment by state and local governmental entities, as well as in areas affected by natural disasters.