WASHINGTON – House lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a major, five-year highway spending bill Thursday afternoon that includes several key relief measures for community banks.
The House voted 359-65 on the roughly $300 billion deal reached by a bicameral conference committee earlier this week. For bankers, the package ultimately proved a mixed bag – they won a number of bipartisan regulatory relief measures that have languished in Congress for years, but larger banks will see a cut to their Fed dividend payout to help fund the measure.
For banks over $10 billion of assets, the dividend on Fed stock they're required to own will now be tied to the 10-year rate for Treasury bonds, which is currently hovering around 2.2%. That rate will be capped at 6%, the previous rate that banks received for their dividend. The package also taps funds from the Federal Reserve's capital surplus account to pay for the bill.
Lawmakers also included more than a dozen regulatory relief measures in the package that will require banks to send out annual privacy notices only when those disclosures change and that will extend bank exam cycles from a year to 18 months for some small banks. Another provision will set up an appeals process for rural designations under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's "qualified mortgage" rule.
The legislation now advances to the Senate, where it is expected to pass quickly, before being sent to the White House to be signed. The transportation program is set to expire Dec. 4.