Maxine Waters to crash FDIC meeting on CRA revamp

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WASHINGTON — House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters announced that she, along with five other panel Democrats, plans to attend a public board meeting of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Thursday where the agency is expected to release a plan to revamp the Community Reinvestment Act.

The move is extremely rare and may even be unprecedented. Lawmakers do not typically attend such meetings, even if they are discussing controversial issues, generally preferring instead to require regulators to come to Capitol Hill to explain their actions in public and private meetings. Waters' move appears calculated to send a signal to the FDIC board members that lawmakers are intensely interested in their CRA plan. The FDIC meeting to discuss the CRA proposal, as well as a plan to redefine brokered deposits, is scheduled for 2 p.m.

“With our visit to the FDIC today, the members of the Committee are continuing to conduct oversight over financial regulators,” Waters said in a press release. “The Board should understand that we are very carefully monitoring their activities.”

Waters is attending along with Reps. Brad Sherman, the chair of the subcommittee on investor protection; Bill Foster, chair of the Task Force on Artificial Intelligence; Cindy Axne, D-Iowa; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Jesús “Chuy” García, D-Ill.

Waters' move comes after she and all the Democrats on the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees sent a letter to the FDIC and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency asking them to allow for a 120-day comment period on the CRA proposal.

“To the extent one or more of your agencies decides to proceed with a proposed rule, we request that you provide a public comment period of no less than 120 days for substantive review and comment on the proposal,” the lawmakers said in a letter sent Wednesday to the heads of the OCC, FDIC and Federal Reserve. “Given the complexity of this rulemaking and the impact of the CRA, particularly within communities of color and for those who have been historically underserved by our financial system, it is essential that your agencies provide adequate time for thorough review by all interested parties.”

The letter comes as the OCC plans to propose a CRA revamp without the Federal Reserve. FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams has indicated that the regulator will likely join the OCC in its proposal.

The Democratic lawmakers said they were concerned about previous comments by the regulators about their CRA plans.

“The CRA is a critical tool to combat redlining, a practice that still exists by which banks discriminate against prospective customers based primarily on where they lived, or their racial or ethnic background, rather than creditworthiness,” they said in Wednesday's letter. “Based on your past responses and statements, as well as the feedback we have received from interested stakeholders, we remain extremely concerned about the direction any proposed rule is likely to take and efforts to arbitrarily rush to finalize a rule in the near future.”

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CRA Regulatory reform Joseph Otting Jelena McWilliams Jerome Powell FDIC OCC Senate Banking Committee House Financial Services Committee Federal Reserve