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Maxine Waters, Ranking Member, Delivers Opening Statement During Hearing with Banking Regulators: “All Employees Deserve a Work Environment Where They Feel Safe, and it is Chair Gruenberg’s Responsibility to Make Sweeping Changes…”

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, delivered the following opening statement during a full committee hearing entitled, “Oversight of Prudential Regulators.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Good morning. I’d like to thank our witnesses from the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the OCC for coming before the Committee today.

I want to start by addressing the FDIC report on workplace culture and sexual harassment that was released last week. The report was deeply troubling and makes clear that under both Republican and Democratic chairs, the FDIC has not done its job to properly address the deep-rooted toxic work culture that has festered over many years at the agency. All employees deserve a work environment where they feel safe, and it is Chair Gruenberg’s responsibility to make sweeping changes promptly for the benefit of every FDIC worker.

While the report scrutinizes Chair Gruenberg, I am disappointed the report seemed to downplay workplace concerns and complaints of harassment that occurred under prior Republican agency leadership. Regardless, the FDIC as an institution has a lot of work to do. The agency can start by expediting the implementation of the action plan I requested of Chair Gruenberg last year, along with the recommendations laid out in the most recent report. As the report states, tone does start at the top. But I am concerned that Republicans, who have been quick to call Chair Gruenberg to resign are selectively applying that standard. After all, the top Republican and nominee to be President is currently on trial regarding the first of a series of criminal indictments and has been found liable for sexual abuse. Hopefully, this concerns them too, and they will call on the former President to step down and withdraw his nomination.

Now, I look forward to hearing from Chair Gruenberg, who has committed to making the necessary changes to turn the tide on the culture at the FDIC. Under the leadership of Chair Gruenberg, the FDIC has done a lot of important work, including its work to combat modern-day redlining by strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act, not to mention the quick action taken to prevent last year’s regional bank failures from spiraling into a full on financial crisis. As important as this work is, it will be permanently tainted if the working environment of the people doing the work remains mired in toxicity. It is crucial that we have a regulator who works every day to not only promote stability and ensures the banking system serves all of our constituents but also treats its employees with fairness and kindness. I’m disappointed in your performance on the latter, Chair Gruenberg.

Turning to a few other matters that are the subject of today’s hearing, I want to applaud the FDIC, OCC, and FHFA for heeding the calls I made after last year’s bank failures to implement Section 956 of Dodd-Frank to hold greedy bank executives accountable for reckless risk taking. It’s past time for the Fed and other regulators to follow suit and implement this Congressional mandate without further delay.

In addition, I look forward to hearing what our regulators are doing to build on Committee Democrats’ record of protecting consumers. In light of the proposed Capital One and Discover merger to create the largest credit card lender in the country, I want to hear what regulators are doing to put away the rubber stamp and strengthen bank merger reviews. I am glad the Fed and OCC announced they will hold a public hearing in July. I hope regulators listen to the feedback, and then block this deeply flawed merger.

As the climate crisis worsens, I am also eager to hear about their efforts to ensure climate risk is taken seriously as a risk to our banking system and that diversity and inclusion is front and center, especially in the light of misguided Republican attacks.

I look forward to today’s discussion. I yield back.


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