Aaron Stetter: ICBA’s fall legislative outlook

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Legislation addressing everything from farm lending to credit union overreach is set to go before Congress this autumn. Now’s the time to make your voice heard on the issues that affect community banks and their customers.

By Aaron Stetter, ICBA

August recess is over, Congress is back at work and ICBA remains focused on advocating for a full docket of legislative issues. With midterm elections around the corner, limiting the window of opportunity, ICBA took full advantage of the summer to engage with key members of the House and Senate and encourage community bankers to meet with legislators in their home districts.

As Congress goes back in session, here is a rundown of the progress ICBA has made on key community bank advocacy issues and where things look heading into the fall.

As ICBA’s exemplary legislative affairs team actively lobbies for these issues, community bankers are needed to help get items across the finish line.

Cannabis banking. In July, Senate Democrats introduced sweeping legislation to end federal cannabis prohibitions. While that bill is unlikely to pass in its current form, it adds momentum to the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1595), the ICBA-advocated cannabis banking safe harbor. The act has passed the House seven times, most recently in a defense authorization bill. ICBA will work diligently with our affiliated state banking associations and grassroots advocates to advance the SAFE Banking Act in the Senate.

Stablecoin. The House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) is expected to mark up a stablecoin bill after releasing a proposed framework earlier this year. ICBA is urging the committee to hold hearings so that community banks and the financial industry can weigh in on the impact of these unregulated digital assets. As we wrote in a letter to the committee this summer that was covered by the Wall Street Journal, Politico and Reuters, ICBA is concerned that the proposed framework won’t fully address the risk stablecoin poses to consumers, the financial system and the broader economy. Thoughtful regulation and oversight are needed.

Closing the ILC loophole. The HFSC voted to advance the ICBA-backed Close the ILC Loophole Act (H.R. 5912) in June. The legislation would amend the Bank Holding Company Act to permanently close the loophole, which allows industrial loan companies (ILCs) and their parent companies to skirt regulatory oversight. ICBA is working to move the bill through the House and secure a Senate cosponsor.

Leveling the credit union playing field. In July, ICBA leadership banker Quentin Leighty, CFO and president of First National Bank of Las Animas, Colo., went before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions to testify why Congress should require credit unions to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). ICBA is asking for hearings on the credit union tax exemption and acquisitions of taxpaying community banks.

Farm credit system lenders. ICBA is pushing back against the Farm Credit Administration Independent Authority Act (H.R. 7768), which was introduced in May and would exempt the tax-advantaged Farm Credit System (FCS) from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulation and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). This summer, ICBA sent a letter to the House and Senate agriculture and finance committees explaining our objections. We want to stop the bill in the House and prevent a companion bill from being introduced in the Senate.

ICBA continues to urge representatives and senators to cosponsor the ECORA Act (H.R. 1977/S. 2202), which would create a tax exclusion for interest on loans secured by agricultural land and residential mortgages in rural communities and is actively seeking more cosponsors.

Tax increases. ICBA is carefully monitoring any proposed tax increases in the budget reconciliation bill. ICBA is opposed to any tax increases and any provisions that would require community banks to report customer financial data to the IRS. ICBA sent a letter to both House and Senate leadership in July outlining the reasons these provisions are ill-advised.

SBA direct lending. ICBA continues to add cosponsors to the Protecting Access to Credit for Small Businesses Act (H.R. 6037/S. 3382), which would prohibit Small Business Administration (SBA) direct lending. ICBA banker Robert J. Barnes, president and CEO of PriorityOne Bank in Magee, Miss., outlined why SBA direct lending is ill-conceived and would jeopardize small business access to capital in testimony before the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations in March.

Advocacy is everything

This is just a sampling of the major issues on ICBA’s legislative agenda for the rest of the year. As ICBA’s exemplary legislative affairs team actively lobbies for these issues, community bankers are needed to help get items across the finish line.

There is no substitute for grassroots advocacy. Legislators want to hear from their constituents. As summer turns to fall, now is the time to reach out to members of Congress and their staff and help move ICBA-backed legislation forward.

How you can help

ICBA makes it easy to weigh in with lawmakers with ICBA’s Be Heard grassroots resource center. It’s filled with tools—everything from talking points and sample letters to contact resources and automated emails—to help you reach out and speak out. Learn more »

Together, ICBA and its member banks can make a meaningful difference in passing legislation to strengthen our institutions and our communities.

Aaron Stetter (aaron.stetter@icba.org) is ICBA’s executive vice president of advocacy and strategic engagement.