Local banks can lead bipartisan efforts on financial regulation

Local banks can lead bipartisan efforts on financial regulation

As the new, 116th Congress begins to tackle the nation’s policy challenges, community bankers stand ready to work with lawmakers to promote bipartisan reforms that will support communities in every congressional district.

With a proven track record of advocating common-sense reforms that deliver tangible results for Main Street consumers and small businesses, community banks are committed to building on recent successes by supporting economic principles that every member of Congress can stand behind.

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The new chairwoman and ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee — Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersSuspect charged for pipe bomb mailings says Trump rallies became like a 'drug' for him On The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery Waters: 'We must impeach Putin's president Trump' MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryDems digging into Trump finances post-Mueller Dems challenge bank CEOs on post-crisis reforms Wells Fargo CEO steps down amid calls for removal MORE (R-N.C.) — have indicated they can work together on bipartisan legislation.

With the Senate Banking Committee’s recent history of bipartisan achievement, there are real opportunities to make headway on outstanding financial services policy issues to support our communities nationwide. Community banks are uniquely poised to help.

The community banking industry has more than 52,000 locations in urban, suburban and rural communities from coast to coast — reflecting the nation’s diversity and offering a source of common ground for Republicans and Democrats.

Comprising 99 percent of U.S. banks, community banks make more than 60 percent of the nation’s small-business loans and some 80 percent of agricultural loans.

As local financial institutions that serve a nation of consumers, families, small businesses and farmers with $3.4 trillion in loans, community banks support policies that will ensure every local community can join in the nation’s economic prosperity.

Community banks focus on local consumers, serving as the only physical banking presence for one in five U.S. counties and uniting behind the belief that no American should be left behind in the post-crisis recovery.

With divided control of Congress requiring a pragmatic approach to the many pending legislative issues facing lawmakers, community banks are ready to lend a hand with policy proposals that offer practical solutions to real-world problems and attract bipartisan support.

To better disperse economic opportunity throughout every local community, community banks support a more efficient system of regulation, unbiased laws governing the financial sector, a safer and more secure business environment and more effective agriculture policies.

For instance, community banks support bipartisan efforts to modernize the Bank Secrecy Act to update our regime combating money laundering.

As lawmakers pursue this initiative in the coming months, community banks encourage them to develop a system in which business ownership records are gathered when legal entities are formed — rather than by their bank — to improve uniformity, consistency and efficiency in the system.

The community bank commitment to equity extends to the financial services marketplace and beyond. Community banks support a competitive landscape free from distortions caused by too-big-to-fail financial firms and the undue competitive advantages enjoyed by credit unions and Farm Credit System lenders because of their exploited tax exemptions.

Advancing data breach legislation that requires all participants in the payments system to have bank-like data security standards and that establishes a national data breach notification standard would enhance security across the private and public sectors.

Meanwhile, community banks support housing-finance reforms that ensure a reliable source of funding for mortgage lending through all economic cycles and in all geographic markets.

As lawmakers begin to tackle these and other issues in the 116th Congress, community bankers look forward to working with them to provide every American an equitable opportunity to take part in our nation’s economic and job growth. Together, we can ensure full and nationwide opportunity and prosperity, one community at a time.

Rebeca Romero Rainey is president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America.