Digging Deep and Making a Difference This Holiday Season

While many Americans are gearing up for the holiday season, ICBA and community bankers are gearing up for a bustling couple of weeks in Washington. Three top-priority industry initiatives are coming to a head in roughly as many weeks: blocking a backdoor tax hike on Federal Reserve members, modifying a dangerous rewrite of accounting standards, and advancing community bank regulatory relief. We need community bankers nationwide to make their voices heard loud and clear above the din on Capitol Hill.

First off, ICBA is working to ensure that community banks aren’t forced to pay for a federal highway bill that House and Senate lawmakers are in the middle of finalizing. An ICBA-advocated amendment that passed in the House would remove a Senate-passed cut to dividends paid on Federal Reserve Bank stock. The amendment not only drops the $17 billion backdoor charge on community banks, but also removes a provision to extend higher guarantee fees on mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We also want to ensure a separate House-passed amendment that advances several ICBA regulatory relief provisions is included in the final version of the bill.

Meanwhile, ICBA is calling on community bankers to continue leading the charge against a costly accounting revamp that is expected to be finalized by the Financial Accounting Standards Board as soon as next week. The Current Expected Credit Loss model would require banks of all sizes to set aside reserves the day they make a loan or investment, resulting in an increase in loan-loss reserves of up to 50 percent, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. We’re calling on community bankers nationwide to contact FASB and advocate ICBA’s alternative plan, which would base community bank loan-loss provisions on historical losses. Meanwhile, I encourage community bankers to attend ICBA’s complimentary audio conference on the FASB proposal on Monday, Nov. 30.

Last but not least, ICBA is making a major push to advance our Plan for Prosperity regulatory relief priorities all the way through Congress before lawmakers break in December. Because the House has already passed numerous ICBA-advocated measures, such as relief from new mortgage rules and Basel III, the Senate is the key to getting them over the finish line. Whether it’s using the appropriations process ahead of the Dec. 11 budget deadline or old-fashioned regular order, now is the time for us to pull out all the stops.

The rest of the country might be cleaning out their ovens to cook Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s time for ICBA and community bankers to strike while the iron is hot. Community bankers have sent 15,000 letters to Capitol Hill against the Fed dividend cut and for our regulatory relief proposals, and nearly 5,000 signed ICBA’s petition on FASB’s accounting plan—clearly demonstrating our industry’s ability to rally when it matters most. So while we’re making room for turkey and stuffing, let’s all dig deep and redouble our advocacy efforts. With strong collective action, we can ensure a lasting holiday gift to Main Street communities.

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