As the Democrats prepare to take control of the House, some of their priorities are becoming clear, including efforts to push the CFPB to enforce the Military Lending Act and legislation to overhaul the Community Reinvestment Act to possibly include credit unions.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, has introduced a House version of a CRA overhaul introduced in the Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Neither bill will pass this year, as Congress prepares to leave, but they could signal legislation that key lawmakers will push during the next Congress.
And, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who likely will chair the House Financial Services Committee next year, is leading an effort to push new CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger to resume agency enforcement of the MLA.
Former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney had signaled that the bureau would no longer enforce the MLA, contending that it exceeded the agency’s legislative authority.
In introducing his bill, Richmond said it is “aimed to combat the affordable housing crisis that continues to plague our nation.”
He added, “This legislation aims to provide that for millions of American families, namely African American communities who have been historically and systematically left without stable housing.”
In addition to expanding the CRA to cover financial institution not currently covered, Richmond’s bill would leverage federal funds to build as many as 3.2 million new housing units, invest $445 billion in the Housing Trust Fund to build or rehabilitate homes for low-income Americans, invest $25 billion in a Capital Magnet Fund, invest $4 billion in a new Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund and invest $2 billion in a new Indian Housing Block Grant program.
The legislation also would provide assistance to people hurt by housing policy through down payment assistance and support for families whose housing wealth was destroyed by the financial crisis.
Policymakers are struggling with how to update the CRA.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has been soliciting ideas about how best to do that.
Banks have been pushing lawmakers to expand the CRA to include credit unions, but credit unions contend that by their very nature, credit unions serve underserved communities.
Congress enacted the reinvestment act in 1977, as part of an effort to encourage banks to meet the credit needs of their communities, including low- and moderate-income communities. Federal banking regulators enforce the law by conducting examinations. In 1995, the law was tailored in an effort to account for different sizes and business models.
With Democrats controlling the House, Richmond’s bill could pass that chamber next year. But with the Republicans still holding the majority in the Senate, it is unlikely that Warren’s bill could pass in its current form.
Still, the bills could be in the mix as lawmakers attempt to update the CRA.
Meanwhile, Waters, who has promised strict oversight of the CFPB, has joined 22 other Democrats on the Financial Services Committee, in sending Kraninger a letter urging her to again enforce the MLA.
The Democrats said that the agency’s decision to abandon MLA enforcement amounted to “dereliction of duty.”
They said that servicemembers and their families need the protection the MLA affords them and said that there is no question that the CFPB is the proper agency to enforce it.