GOP senators pressure banking agencies for more reg relief

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WASHINGTON — A group of Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee pressed the banking regulators — all GOP appointees — to make several of their regulatory relief proposals even more lenient.

In a letter signed by committee chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said the regulators must act to continue the country's economic expansion.

“More can be done to support the economic expansion,” the letter reads. “The Banking Committee continues to explore additional ways that regulations can be tailored to further spur economic growth. As you move forward with finalizing rules … we urge you to consider several critical issues.”

The letter, dated Tuesday, called on regulators to complete its work on the Community Bank Leverage Ratio, which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. proposed in November and would nullify many post-crisis regulatory requirements for small institutions that maintain a 9% leveraged capital. The lawmakers said that regulators should reduce that ratio to 8% — the lower end of the range under consideration by law and the preferred alternative of the banks themselves.

“The proposed 9% CBLR is well above the current Tier 1 leverage requirement for well-capitalized banks,” the letter said. “Accordingly, we encourage you to use the discretion provided to you by Congress to establish the CBLR at 8%, which would result in community banks receiving relief under the CLR while maintaining significant capital.”

The lawmakers also asked that regulators amend their rule that changed the types of short term call reports that banks with less than $5 billion in assets are required to file. The regulation, which was finalized in June, would allow some small banks to file streamlined call reports every other quarter. But the letter says the proposal doesn’t go far enough, providing banks “would only save 1.03 hours per quarter, and some stakeholders have expressed concern about the limited relief.”

The letter also asked regulators to “actively analyze the effects” of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s proposed changes to the way companies set aside loan-loss reserves and asked the regulators to model their rules for initial margin on inter-affiliate swaps after the rules issued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Additionally, the letter chided the agencies for “a number of situations where your agencies have enacted guidance and other policy statements that are being enforced as rules,” and called on them to “submit all rules to Congress even if they have not gone through a formal notice and comment rulemaking.”

Not all of the letter’s contents were critical, however. The lawmakers praised the Fed for its proposed and finalized revisions to the stress testing program and the Fed’s proposal to tailor its rules for foreign banking organizations.

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Regulatory relief Community banking CECL Stress tests Mike Crapo Jerome Powell Jelena McWilliams Joseph Otting Senate Banking Committee Federal Reserve FDIC OCC