House should 'immediately pass' Senate reg relief version: ICBA

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WASHINGTON — The Independent Community Bankers of America called on the House Monday to “immediately pass” the Senate's bipartisan regulatory relief package rather than delay reforms with further debate and legislative maneuvering.

The group made its plea in a petition signed by over 10,000 community bank employees. The Senate passed its bill, sponsored by Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, in March after extensive negotiations between Republicans and supportive Democrats produced a moderate relief package that can pass both chambers.

"We, the undersigned community bankers, directors, employees and customers from across the nation, respectfully urge the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately pass legislation to provide community banks with regulatory relief," the petition said.

House members had expressed interest in expanding the package with more relief provisions, but changes to the bill could threaten Democratic support in the Senate.

“Community bank regulatory relief has been debated exhaustively in each chamber over a period of years,” the ICBA said in its petition. “Further delay or inaction could derail its current momentum. Without relief from costly and disproportionate regulatory burden, industry consolidation will continue apace and permanently change the financial services landscape to the detriment of consumers and small business borrowers.”

The group described the Senate’s legislation as a “robust package” to provide needed regulatory relief to community banks.

Other industry groups, including the American Bankers Association, have similarly called on the House to pass the Senate legislation as quickly as possible.

“S. 2155 reflects a careful, bipartisan and reasoned approach that aims to build upon the regulatory progress of recent years while making targeted, commonsense fixes that reinforce the ability of our nation’s banks to serve their communities,” the ABA and banking associations from all 50 states said in a joint letter to the House in April.

House Republicans, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, have pushed the Senate to consider further deregulatory measures in its package. But senators won't seem to budge. Hensarling has hinted that the House may decide to pass the Senate’s bill as-is in the hopes that the Senate would consider other deregulatory measures that passed the lower chamber separately.

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