Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, released this statement following the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Fed), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) final rule to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to lend to low- and moderate-income communities where they do business.
“I applaud the Fed, FDIC, and OCC for issuing their final rule to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). In 1977, Congress enacted the CRA, a civil rights piece of legislation, into law in response to decades of persistent racist policies in banking like redlining, where banks would systemically deny the provision of mortgages and other financial products and services to certain areas based on race or ethnicity. Redlining robbed Black families and other families of color of the opportunity to build wealth through the American dream of homeownership. Now, more than four decades later, the unfortunate truth is that the implementation of the law has not kept up with changes in the banking system, and as a result, not much has changed to turn the tide to ensure homeownership is truly a reality for all. In fact, as it stands today, the homeownership gap is wider now than it was in 1968 when redlining was legal. This is simply unacceptable and yet another reason why strengthening CRA’s implementation is so critically important.
“For many years, I’ve led the effort in Congress to both strengthen the CRA and guard against extremist attacks seeking to undermine it. Following the 2008 financial crisis, I pushed back against Republicans who had the gall to suggest it was CRA, not predatory lenders or greedy Wall Street bankers, that caused the crisis. Years later, when Joseph Otting, the former Comptroller of the Currency who was appointed by twice-impeached, four-times indicted, and found liable for sexual assault, former President Trump, proposed a rule to gut the CRA unilaterally, I led the charge to block this effort. I sent letters, convened Committee hearings, advanced legislation to stymie Otting’s attacks on CRA, and led a delegation of Committee Democrats to attend a public FDIC Board meeting to protest Otting’s extremist effort. I am very proud we were able to successfully block his harmful and unilateral attempt to gut the CRA, creating the space for the banking agencies to work together on a new interagency rule to strengthen how the CRA was implemented – as they’ve done today for the first time in nearly three decades.
“Let’s be clear, the effects of redlining have worked to create a permanent underclass for communities of color and widened the racial wealth gap. Earlier this year in Los Angeles County, we watched as City National Bank settled for $31 million after the Department of Justice discovered that the bank had spent years redlining Black and Latinx families. The story is the same for communities across the country, with modern day-redlining observed in more than 60 metro areas while 98% of banks consistently get passing CRA grades.
“With today’s rule, we have a once in a generation opportunity to make meaningful steps toward ending redlining and its present-day manifestation. We have much more work to do, but I am pleased with the progress being made by this rule. I will be watching closely to see how our nation’s banking regulators implement it and will craft any legislation that may be necessary to bolster this effort so we can end redlining once and for all.”
On April 9, 2019, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions convened a hearing entitled, “The Community Reinvestment Act: Assessing the Law’s Impact on Discrimination and Redlining.”
On December 12, 2019, then Chairwoman Waters led a delegation of the Committee in attending a public meeting of the FDIC’s Board of Directors where CRA was on the agenda.
The Members’ trip to the FDIC followed a December 11, 2019 letter sent to banking regulators led by Chairwoman Waters and then Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and signed by all 34 Committee Democrats, along with all 12 Senate Banking Committee Democrats led by Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The letter, addressed to FDIC Chairman McWilliams, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, and OCC Comptroller Joseph Otting, calls on the regulators to, at a minimum, include a public comment period of at least 120 days for any proposal reforming CRA to ensure it gets a full vetting and that all interested parties have an opportunity to analyze and comment on the proposal.
On January 14, 2020, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, then chaired by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), convened a hearing with stakeholders testifying entitled, “The Community Reinvestment Act: Reviewing Who Wins and Who Loses with Comptroller Otting’s Proposal.”
On January 15, 2020, then Chairwoman Waters opened an investigation into potential astroturfing efforts to influence the OCC and FDIC’s CRA rulemaking, demanding the agencies explain efforts to ensure the legitimacy of the rulemaking process.
On January 29, 2020, then Chairwoman Waters convened a hearing entitled, “The Community Reinvestment Act: Is the OCC Undermining the Law’s Purpose and Intent?” with Comptroller Otting testifying as the sole witness.
On February 6, 2020, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Al Green (D-TX), convened a hearing with stakeholders entitled, “Fake It Till They Make It: How Bad Actors Use Astroturfing to Manipulate Regulators, Disenfranchise Consumers and Subvert the Rulemaking Process.” As part of the hearing, witnesses discussed allegations that Comptroller Otting, when he was the CEO of OneWest Bank, may have been involved in fabricating comments in support of OneWest’s merger with CIT.
On February 24, 2020, in response to efforts by then Chairwoman Waters and Committee Democrats to ensure the public had enough time to provide comment on the OCC and FDIC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to overhaul CRA regulations, the agencies announced a 30 day extension of the comment period.
On March 6, 2020, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, chaired by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), convened a field hearing with stakeholders in Queens, New York, entitled, “Modern-Day Redlining: the Burden on Underbanked and Excluded Communities in New York.”
On April 7, 2020, then Chairwoman Waters led a letter signed by all other Committee Democratic Members to Comptroller Otting and Jelena McWilliams, Chairman of the FDIC, urging them to prioritize a strong response to the COVID-19 pandemic and suspend efforts to revise the Community Reinvestment Act and any unrelated rulemakings.
On June 29, 2020, the House of Representatives passed H.J. Res 90, a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to nullify the OCC’s harmful Community Reinvestment Act rule introduced by Chairwoman Waters and Representative Meeks.
On December 4, 2020, then Chairwoman Waters wrote a letter to then President-elect Joseph Biden, urging his regulatory appointees to rescind the OCC’s 2020 CRA rule, and to work on a new rulemaking “to strengthen CRA’s implementation to ensure we can finally put an end to modern-day redlining.”
On July 13, 2022, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, chaired by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), convened a hearing entitled, “Better Together: Examining the Unified Proposed Rule to Modernize the Community Reinvestment Act.”
On July 22, 2021, then Chairwoman Waters released a statement applauding the OCC’s decision to rescind the 2020 Community Reinvestment Act rule and work with the FDIC and the Federal Reserve to draft a new joint rule.
On August 8, 2022, then Chairwoman Waters led a letter with 76 Democratic Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to the leaders of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Fed), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) urging the regulators to consider carefully the comments they receive from civil rights and community groups as well as other stakeholders to their joint proposed rulemaking to modernize the CRA.
On September 15, 2022, then Chairwoman Waters introduced legislation to strengthen the CRA entitled, the “Making Communities Stronger Through the Community Reinvestment Act.”