Fed focused on drafting joint CRA plan with other agencies: Powell

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WASHINGTON — After other regulators hinted the three federal bank agencies may not be able to come together on a joint Community Reinvestment Act proposal, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said a “common answer” is the ideal outcome.

“We've been working very, very hard with the other two bank agencies to try to find common ground,” Powell said Wednesday at a congressional hearing of the Joint Economic Committee. “We're committed to making sure this reform actually … puts us in a better place to serve the intended beneficiaries of CRA.”

The Fed typically develops bank regulatory policy along with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. But the three agencies appear to have struggled to formulate a joint CRA plan.

“We haven't quite gotten there yet,” Powell said. “We're going to keep trying, though, and my hope is that we will ultimately be able to come together with a common answer, which I think would be better for everyone if we can do that.”

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on Tuesday said his agency at least will release a notice of proposed rulemaking by year-end, but he did not rule out that happening before the three agencies agree.

“We'd be hopeful that the FDIC and the Fed would join [the NPR]. But at this point in time, I don't know where that is,” Otting said at a regtech conference hosted by American Banker. “You'd have to ask the Fed and the FDIC.”

Last month, FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams said her “goal is to move together” on a CRA reform proposal, but she suggested the agencies could also move separately. “We’re willing to go as three agencies, two agencies, one agency, whatever the end outcome is," she said.

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