Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, delivered the following opening statement during a full Committee Markup.
Last month our nation’s economy was rocked by two of the largest bank failures in U.S. history – Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. These failures harmed small businesses everywhere. But we are not here today to get to the bottom of what happened, or even to consider legislation that could get our banks back up and lending again to small businesses. Instead, the Chairman is focused on what has become a deregulatory agenda.
Meanwhile, House Republican Leadership are pushing forward with their demands of a toxic set of budget cuts, including to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as a ransom to allow our government to pay the debts that Republicans agreed to incur. Moody’s Analytics says that this MAGA Republican bill led by Speaker McCarthy would cost 780,000 jobs, weaken the economy, increase the unemployment rate, and would “meaningfully increase the likelihood of…a downturn.” If this Committee really wanted to support small businesses’ access to capital, we should be doing everything in our power to avoid a debt default, which would be devastating for small businesses across the country.
Now, I’d love to say that I appreciated how well Mr. McHenry’s and my staff worked together, but shortly after we came to an agreement on a list of bills for this markup, the Chair went back on his word. I had hoped that our Committee could rise above the partisanship of the House, but I understand that the Chair is beholden to his leadership at the end of the day.
So, while I’m pleased to say that there are 12 targeted pieces of legislation that we will support, there are two packages of truly toxic bills, and a third stand-alone measure that I will strongly oppose.
The first partisan package is the so-called “CFPB Transparency and Accountability Reform Act.” This bill will rob the CFPB of the funding it needs to properly regulate the consumer financial marketplace and would impede the CFPB’s ability to carry out its mission to protect consumers from harm. It is a brazen, yet predictable, attempt to undermine the CFPB.
Next is “the Expanding Access to Capital Act.” This partisan package would significantly weaken investor protections by removing the very disclosures and legal protections investors rely on to hold businesses accountable. This bill goes so far as to deregulate venture capital funds, after we continue to learn about the role venture capital played in SVB’s bank run.
And the third problematic bill is H.R. 1807. This bill is being considered separately from the partisan package because the Chair apparently felt it was no longer convenient for him to honor our agreement. Well, I have news for the Chair: compromises are hard and are rarely convenient. H.R. 1807 would allow brokerages and investment advisers to force millions of Americans to access their investment statements and other materials online, even if they don’t have access to the internet. I saw how this tactic made it difficult for many business owners to access PPP loans during the pandemic when banks required the applications to be completed online. It is elitism at best, and discriminatory at worst.
Dozens of public interest organizations, investor advocates, consumer advocates, civil rights groups, front-line regulators and more have all warned the Committee about the harm of these three bills. I look forward to highlighting our concerns with these bills. Today, I look forward to discussing these bills. And I say to the Chairman, before I yield back: while you talk a good game about bipartisanship and you keep telling the public how well we’re doing – you’re not doing that well, because you are absolutely going back on commitments that were made. Now, I yield back the balance of my time.