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Congressman Williams’ Bill Garners Support From Community Bankers

Jan 10, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (R – Austin), who serves as a vice chair on the House Committee on Financial Services, questioned Mr. Robert Fisher, who is the president and CEO of Tioga State Bank, and is in Washington on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America, yesterday at the Subcommittee Hearing on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit in regards to his bill, H.R. 1264, the Community Financial Institution Exemption Act, that he introduced in February 2017.

Williams’ bill would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to exempt community financial institutions unless the CFPB ‘makes a detailed, written finding that such class of community financial institutions has engaged in a pattern or practice of activities that have been detrimental to the interests of consumers, and are of a type that the specific rule or regulation is intended to address.’

Williams’ and Fisher’s remarks below:

Williams: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding a hearing on my bill, H.R. 1264, the Community Financial Institution Exemption Act, and all of the important legislation that we’ll discuss today. 

“It is not easy to force a regulatory agency to do what they already should be doing, but H.R. 1264 seeks to put the burden of proof on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 

“For new regulations, community institutions will be exempt until the CFPB makes a written, detailed finding that they should not be included. In other words, either keep community institutions out of these massive rules, or put pen to paper and tell us why they are including community banks and credit unions. 

“The bill would also require the CFPB to consult with the primary regulators of community institutions as to whether new rules should go forward, or if an exemption should exist. Finally, nothing in the bill would prevent the CFPB from revisiting current rules to determine if new exemptions are justified.

“My bill is simple, my bill is straightforward. I hope that the Committee will consider my legislation, and that my friends on the other side of the aisle, and as my good friend – let the record show - as my good buddy, David Scott, has indicated, they will work with us to create a workable exemption. If not, I am afraid our community institutions are going to keep disappearing, and customers and borrowers alike are going to suffer in the long run.

“With my remaining time, I’d like to ask a few questions.

“Mr. Fisher, congratulations on your fifth generation business; I operate a third generation business. I want to thank you being here today. Community banks and credit unions are the backbone of Main Street America. In my 45 years of experience as a small business owner, I can say, without a doubt, that community financial institutions are major drivers of this nation’s economy. But the sad truth is: one credit union or community bank is going out of business each working day – that’s unbelievable here in America - because of incredible regulatory burden.

“I would like to ask you about my piece of legislation, the Community Financial Institution Exemption Act, which you have spoken about, and the affect that it could have on Main Street.

“First though, in your experience, would you say that in the past eight years, the regulatory burden on your institution has grown substantially?”

Fisher: “I would say it has definitely mushroomed. It has expanded exponentially.”

Williams: “Do you feel that the CFPB should have included broader exemptions for smaller institutions in that time frame?”

Fisher: “Yeah, I’m not sure that the CFPB has effectively used the Section 1022 exemption to exempt different financial institutions from the per-view of some of their laws.”

Williams: “Do you think this legislation will have a positive impact on Main Street?”

Fisher: “I think this would have a tremendous impact on Main Street.”

Williams: “I’ve got another question. I am concerned that the CFPB, as it behaved under, now former, Director Cordray, actively sought to increase regulation, no matter the cost to communities and the consequences of its actions. With that being said, do you think that requiring a written finding for new rules before they go into effect, if at all, would force the CFPB to stop and think if these rules are truly necessary for community institutions?”

Fisher: “Most certainly. They would have to prove, the burden of proof is on the CFPB at that point.”

Williams: “And finally, will my proposal effectively help community financial institutions to thrive and grow in number, rather than be crushed under burdensome regulation as they currently are?”

Fisher: “I would find that to be very helpful, yes.”

Williams: “Thank you for your testimony.”


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