Fine Points

By Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of ICBA

No place like home

We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Despite single-party rule of the White House and Congress, community bank regulatory relief remains unfinished business. Many ICBA-advocated bills have been introduced and enjoy bipartisan support, but community bankers will have to continue the grassroots push for progress on Capitol Hill.

The calendar gives community bankers a chance to provide a jolt of momentum. With the August congressional recess almost upon us, ICBA strongly encourages community bankers to make their voices heard by scheduling district meetings with their members of Congress.

What’s true for Dorothy and Toto is true for grassroots advocacy: There’s no place like home. Whether by attending a town hall forum, paying a visit to a congressional district office or, preferably, inviting members of Congress for a bank tour and discussion, community bankers can use the opportunities of the August recess to demonstrate the real-world challenges posed by federal banking regulations. With Washington facing so many interruptions to reforming unnecessary and excessive regulations, now is our chance to truly bring the debate home for lawmakers.

After all, the community banking industry is positioned as well as any group to take advantage of this pause in the legislative session. The House has passed House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Texas) comprehensive Financial CHOICE Act relief bill. The multipronged CLEAR Relief Act—which takes up numerous community bank-specific provisions from ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity—has been introduced in the House and Senate with bipartisan support. Meanwhile, a litany of stand-alone bills taking on community bank regulatory burdens and promoting access to capital are pending. But as active as ICBA is in working these issues on Capitol Hill, it is up to the grassroots to see them through.

Of course, ICBA is here to help. To facilitate face-to-face district meetings, ICBA offers a variety of resources on our Be Heard grassroots website (icba.org/beheard). In addition to sample letters to request a meeting, the site provides a comprehensive guide, with tips on setting up and conducting visits, information on notifying and following up with ICBA, and social media tools to amplify your message.

As a longtime community banker, I know full well that it’s a job that doesn’t leave a lot of time for hosting members of Congress. But we have a historic shot at advancing meaningful regulatory relief and need to use every weapon in our arsenal to finish the job. With so many priorities facing Washington, we have to show how excessive regulation truly affects lawmakers’ own communities and what relief means for the constituents they represent.

Now is the time to start scheduling and preparing for district meetings in August. Hosting lawmakers and their legislative staff provides a firsthand look at the complexities of community banking regulations and perspective on the need to reform the one-size-fits-all regulatory system. We call on community bankers nationwide to invite members of Congress for a look at your bank, show them what overregulation really means and remind them that they’re not in Washington anymore.

Follow Camden R. Fine on Twitter at
@Cam_Fine.

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