WASHINGTON — Legislation that would let banks appeal examination findings to an outside arbiter has now been introduced in both houses of Congress.
After the House bill was unveiled late last year, a Senate version was introduced Tuesday by Republican Sen. Jerry Moran and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
"Rather than provide clear rules of the road for an institution to make prudent loans to credit-worthy borrowers, banking agencies have made the lending climate worse by allowing the regulatory pendulum to swing too far," said Moran, of Kansas, in a press release. "It is time to restore clarity and balance, and I hope this bipartisan legislation can accomplish that objective."
Manchin, who represents West Virginia, stated: "With the worst jobs climate in generations, it just makes sense to enact commonsense reforms that make our banking system more transparent and allow banks to make good loans to small businesses so that they can create jobs."
The legislation, which would create a new outside ombudsman where banks could lodge appeals, is opposed by federal bank regulators.
The measure has key bipartisan support in the House, but it appears to face a tougher path in the Senate. Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson recently asked the inspectors general at the banking agencies to study their exam practices, a process that could take several months.
Frank Keating, president of the American Bankers Association, reiterated his group's support for the legislation on Tuesday, saying in a press release that the bill "would provide critical balance and additional transparency to decisions made by regulatory agencies in the examination process."