WASHINGTON — Lawmakers have a busy schedule this week with several hearings on a variety of banking issues, including everything from the independent foreclosure reviews to how to solve the problem posed by "too big to fail" institutions.
The House Financial Services Committee is starting off the week with a hearing examining the regulatory burden for small banks on Tuesday morning. Witnesses at the hearing, held by the subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit, will include several small bank executives testifying on behalf of the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern about the volume of requirements now being placed on the country's smallest banks as regulators seek to implement the Dodd-Frank reform law and the proposed Basel III standards.
On Tuesday afternoon the House banking panel's oversight and investigations subcommittee will discuss concerns about Dodd-Frank's authority to break up "too big to fail” institutions with several regulators, amid ongoing debate on the Hill and across the country over the issue. Scheduled witnesses include Scott Alvarez, general counsel at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Richard Osterman Jr., acting general counsel at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and James Wigand, director of the office of complex financial institutions at the FDIC.
The oversight and investigations subcommittee will also hold a hearing on Wednesday afternoon examining delays with the Securities and Exchange Commission's implementation the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. The names of witnesses to testify at that hearing haven't been released yet.
On the Senate side, the Banking Committee's housing, transportation and community development subcommittee will hold a hearing on the foreclosure review process Wednesday morning. The hearing comes after Democrats on the financial institutions and consumer protection subcommittee last week grilled regulators over their handling of the failed independent foreclosure review and the use of independent consultants. Joseph Smith Jr., the national mortgage settlement monitor, and Lawrance Evans, director of financial markets and community investment at the Government Accountability Office, will both testify as witnesses. The GAO released a report earlier this month criticizing the foreclosure review.
On Thursday morning, the Senate Banking Committee will receive a progress report from Ed DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The hearing comes as rumors mount that the Obama administration will soon nominate a new agency director. Several names have been floated for the position, including Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., and most recently Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, according to press reports. Liberal Democrats have been critical of DeMarco, advocating for his removal over certain policy decisions, including his opposition to principal write downs. He assumed the acting director role in 2009. Steve A. Linick, FHFA's inspector general, will also be a witness at Thursday's hearing.
The ABA, meanwhile, is holding its annual government relations summit this week, giving participants the chance to meet with lawmakers and regulators to discuss industry concerns. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is slated to speak at the conference on Tuesday morning, and Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader, and Jon Tester, D-Mont., a member of the banking panel, are scheduled to speak on Wednesday morning. Numerous banking regulators will also be at the conference, according to the agenda.