House advances bills to protect workers' credit in government shutdown

Register now

WASHINGTON — The House Financial Services Committee on Friday advanced legislation aimed at limiting the negative impacts of a government shutdown on consumers’ credit reports.

The committee passed a bill 32-22 sponsored by Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., that would prohibit the inclusion of adverse information on government employees’ credit reports during a government shutdown.

“This is real simple, real easy,” said Rep. Greg Meeks, D-N.Y., while the committee debated the measure earlier this week. “Why should someone be negatively impacted because of a credit rating when everyone knows that the sole reason that they are not paying their bill is because they are not getting paid because of a government shutdown by the United States Congress?”

But the bill faced strong GOP opposition and no Republicans supported the measure.

Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said he was concerned that creating a database of government employees to send to the credit reporting agencies could put those consumers at risk.

“I am concerned about the data this legislation will send to consumer credit reporting agencies,” McHenry said. “Have we heard from consumers? How will we help them? How will we respond in a meaningful way?”

The committee also passed a bill 32-22 along party lines that would authorize a Federal Housing Administration pilot program to allow for additional credit information to be included in reports for borrowers seeking mortgages. The bill would preserve traditional credit scores and reports, but enable consumers to opt in and include additional information, such as rental payments and utility bills.

“It is an opt-in bill,” said Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, the lead sponsor of the legislation. “It does not immediately add the additional credit scores. It allows the consumer to opt in.”

The committee also unanimously advanced a bill directing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s community affairs office to identify causes leading to, and solutions for, underbanked, unbanked, and underserved consumers.

The committee votes came after the full House on Thursday passed through a voice vote legislation designed to encourage banks to work with consumers during a government shutdown.

That bill, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., would require the CFPB, Federal Reserve Board, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the National Credit Union Administration to issue guidance to financial institutions to work with consumers and businesses affected by a federal government shutdown.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Credit reporting FCRA Government shutdown Maxine Waters Patrick McHenry House Financial Services Committee