NACHA Government Relations Update - Jan. 25, 2018

Posted January, 24 2018

Jerome Powell Confirmed as New Chair of Federal Reserve Board
On Jan. 23, 2018, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee – Jerome Powell – to serve as Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in a bipartisan 85-12 final vote. Governor Powell’s term will begin when the current Chair, Janet Yellen, steps down on Feb. 3.
Governor Powell has been on the Fed’s Board since 2012 and has worked with Chairwoman Yellen as well as her predecessor, Ben Bernanke to develop the central bank’s post-financial-crisis policies. It is expected that Powell will direct the Board with a certain level of policy continuity going forward – including, for now, continued gradual increases in interest rates. He has, however, also indicated he would consider some easing of financial regulations.
CFPB Wants Feedback
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted a Request for Information on how it conducts investigations and enforcement. The RFI follows through on acting Director Mick Mulvaney's announcement from last week, in which he said he'd begin a thorough review of the bureau's actions and powers.
The public comment request emphasizes that the bureau wants input from recipients of civil investigative demands or lawyers who have represented them.
McWilliams Close to Leading FDIC
FDIC Chair nominee, Ms. Jelena McWilliams will not be able to take over the agency until Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig leaves around April 2, 2018.

A White House official said the administration was required to nominate McWilliams for Hoenig's seat because he was filed as a Republican member of the FDIC Board. The law says that there can be a maximum of three members from the same party on the five-member Board. McWilliams is a Republican, along with Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney and Comptroller Joseph Otting. Once Hoenig’s term expires, McWilliams should be confirmed by the Senate and ready to head FDIC. Jelena is very aware of the ACH Network and has been quite supportive of private sector rulemaking from her days on the Senate Banking Committee.

This week, McWilliams sailed through the Senate Banking Committee hearing with little opposition. Highlights include:
  • Regulatory Reform Priorities – Several senators, including Chairman Crapo, questioned the nominees on initiatives they would first seek to address if confirmed.
McWilliams cited regulatory burdens on community banks, the de novo charter drought, international banking regulations, and bank cyber risks as issues she would prioritize at the FDIC. Additionally, McWilliams responded to Sen. Tester’s question on modernizing the community bank examination process by confirming her commitment to streamlining and synchronizing the bank examination process. McWilliams would use her position to eliminate duplicative requirements across regulatory agencies and enhance uniformity amongst prudential bank regulators in their approach to regulation and examination.  
  • De Novo Bank Charters – Referencing the recent drought in newly chartered banks, Sen. Toomey questioned McWilliams on steps she would take to reduce regulatory burdens on community banks to encourage greater de novo growth. 
McWilliams agreed that regulatory burden plays a key role in both discouraging new bank charters and encouraging consolidation within the community banking industry. If confirmed, McWilliams is committed to examining how capital and liquidity requirements and the Basel framework applies to community banks, citing her firsthand experience with institutions effected both directly and indirectly by these requirements while serving on the SBC’s staff.
Acting CFPB Director Pens Op-Ed for WSJ & Other Staff Appointments at CFPB
Interim Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director, Mick Mulvaney, penned an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal. The theme was similar to a strongly worded memo sent to CFPB staff the same day. Acting Director Mulvaney slammed the "mission" of the agency under his predecessor while laying out a new governing philosophy for the bureau. He was very direct on the mission of CFPB: “I intend to exercise our statutory authority to enforce the laws of this nation. I intend to execute the statutory mandate of the bureau to protect consumers. But we will no longer go beyond that mandate. If Congress wants us to do more than it set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act, it can change the law”.
Other CFPB headlines include the appointment of two House Financial Services (HFSC) staff members to the CFPB Executive Staff. Kirsten Mork left as Staff Director at the House Financial Services Committee to become Chief of Staff at the CFPB, starting next week. HFSC Senior Counsel, Brian Johnson, was appointed to the agency as a Senior Adviser to the Director, last month. Both Kirsten and Brian are extremely familiar with the ACH Network and the value of private sector rulemaking.
Legislative Calendars for 2018
House 2018 Calendar
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