Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Keeping Banking Bipartisan in 2020: ABA's Advocacy Successes in Recent Years Are Laying the Groundwork for a Return to Bipartisanship on Banking Issues

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Keeping Banking Bipartisan in 2020: ABA's Advocacy Successes in Recent Years Are Laying the Groundwork for a Return to Bipartisanship on Banking Issues

Article excerpt

For all the acrimony and tension from impeachment to trade conflicts to a seemingly endless presidential election that seems to be defining our capital these days. it may come as a surprise to many people in this country that Washington. D.C.. has quietly been producing some smart, commonsense banking policy.

How have we managed to see significant progress on banking issues in such a divisive atmosphere? And--as I'm often asked by bankers when I'm speaking at industry events--what does this mean for banking as the 2020 elections approach?

The truth is that our policy victories have been in areas where ABA and our members have forged bipartisan coalitions. We've won where we've brought fact-based light instead of partisan heat. and we've made gains where we've been able to find common ground. It's helped that we have pursued commonsense policies that benefit the country, not just banks. We've also been successful by choosing to engage both with lawmakers we often agree with and some we don't, helping them separate fact from fiction. That's exactly the same strategy we'll pursue in 2020.

No matter who holds the gavel in Congress or controls the White House after the election, we will do everything we can to make sure they understand banks and bankers today and the critical role our industry plays in the economy. We will continue working closely with leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to educate them on issues that are affecting bankers' ability to serve their customers and communities. We will need your help every step of the way.

A year of bipartisan accomplishments

Last year was the third year in a row of significant policy progress for the banking industry. On the heels of the enactment of two historic bills--tax reform in 2017 and financial regulatory reform in 2018--policymakers continued to advance commonsense policy solutions to address real problems identified by ABA and our member banks.

In September, nearly three-quarters of the House voted to pass the SAFE Banking Act which would provide a legislative solution to the legal limbo surrounding cannabis banking. It's rare to see such a big bipartisan majority for any controversial bill, much less a marijuana-related bill.

Here's how it happened. Bankers and state association executives in states that first legalized marijuana took the lead in educating their peers and lawmakers on the implications of leaving the cannabis industry unbanked. Those include the tax consequences, the public safety risks, and the impact on non-cannabis bank customers caught in the middle. They saw first-hand how the disparity between state and federal laws on cannabis have created untenable risks for local communities, and they contributed to a grassroots bipartisan majority to address the problem. I'm proud of the fact that the lawmakers most responsible for the legislation cite ABA's support as a key turning point for a bill that had previously gone nowhere. We still have work to do to get this legislation over the finish line, but I'm confident that common sense will prevail in the end.

The next month, another bipartisan House majority passed legislation to modernize how law enforcement and the banking industry collaborate to combat money laundering and prevent financial crimes. The legislation would create a beneficial ownership registry run by the government that banks will use to verify that business customers are not shell companies for bad actors--something we have been advocating for years. It will make compliance easier for banks, and most importantly, it will keep our country safer. There is solid, bipartisan support for a companion bill in the Senate as well.

Throughout 2019, we also saw regulatory action on several other priorities, from implementing key sections of S. 2155, which made tailoring of regulation the law of the land and finalizing the new community bank leverage ratio, to raising the appraisal threshold for residential real estate transactions and proposing changes to the FDIC's national rate cap regulations. …

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