With the 113th Congress’ committee assignments and leadership structures in place, the legislative wheels for the next two years of policymaking are beginning to turn. While headlines are centered on automatic federal spending cuts scheduled for March 1, ICBA is focused squarely on its legislative agenda for the next two years.
Relieving the nation’s community banks from undue regulatory burdens will continue to be a top ICBA priority. The good news is that progress is already underway. Separate ICBA-advocated bills were recently introduced to exempt community banks from proposed municipal advisor regulations, to ease requirements on annual privacy notices and to allow thrift holding companies to take advantage of lower Securities and Exchange Commission deregistration thresholds. Meanwhile, the House Financial Services Committee declared that the health and growth of community banks—and the excessive demands of Basel III and mortgage-lending regulations—will be among its top oversight concerns.
But ICBA’s offense will have to be complemented by a strong defense against campaigns by community banks’ government-supported competitors. The tax-exempt credit union industry is again working to advance legislation that would increase their member-business-lending cap and to unfairly expand their powers to raise outside capital. The association continues to oppose any expansion of authorities for the Farm Credit System, which enjoys tax and funding advantages as a government-sponsored enterprise. And ICBA will never relent from its efforts to ensure stricter and more meaningful oversight of too-big-to-fail firms and the risks they pose to our financial system.
Due to the Republican majority in the House and Democratically controlled Senate, any advancement of legislation through Congress will require bipartisan support. As the clear and uncompromised voice for community banks, ICBA looks forward to continuing to work with the nation’s community bankers and our affiliated state and regional community banking associations on behalf of this great industry. With the legislative wheels beginning to turn, now is the time to continue our push for fair and sustainable regulations through the 113th Congress.