WASHINGTON - Twenty-five members of the House Banking Committee said Monday that they oppose the Federal Reserve Board's plan to let lenders collect race and gender data on all borrowers.
The lawmakers, who were not joined by Committee Chairman Jim Leach, said the Fed should let Congress decide which data lenders may collect. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., said he feared the rule would become "a huge new unfunded mandate" that would lead to higher bank fees and lending rates.
The House Banking group consisted of 24 Republicans and one Democrat. According to a spokesman, Rep. Leach "may have reservations about this issue," but he prefers to let the Fed make independent decisions.
The Fed's plan, which would change Regulation B, has been on and off the table since 1995. The central bank's most recent proposal was issued Aug. 16 with comments due last month. Senate Banking's Republicans are also opposed, while the 59-member committee's Democrats have urged the Fed to adopt the change. Though some individual banks support the move, all the industry's national trade associations have opposed it.
The Fed had no comment on the controversy. Observers expect the agency to make a decision in the first quarter.
- Barbara A. Rehm