GOP senators want 'Choke Point' loosened

Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee called on Monday for the Justice Department to end its controversial "Operation Choke Point" program, which allows feds to mandate that banks not do business with certain industries.

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"Small and community banks have lost valuable customers merely because their legal businesses are disfavored by Federal agencies, while consumers have lost access to merchants they need and value," GOP Sens. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOn The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response MORE (Idaho), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom line Bottom line The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (La.), Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (Neb.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranMemorial Day during COVID-19: How to aid our country's veterans Pass the Primary Care Enhancement Act Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns MORE (Kan.); Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnTom Coburn's annual gift to taxpayers Joe Biden still doesn't have a campaign theme The Hill's 12:30 Report: Drug companies inch closer to COVID-19 vaccine MORE (Okla.); and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Nev.) wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderLegal challenges to stay-at-home orders gain momentum Census delay threatens to roil redistricting Storm builds around Barr over dropping of Flynn case MORE on Monday.

The lawmakers asked the outgoing Cabinet official to outline how Justice Department officials will continue to implement the controversial program by Nov. 2.

"As part of Operation Choke Point, rather than initiating cases against specific bad actors ... Federal agencies devised a list of certain 'high-risk merchant' categories with the intent of 'choking-off' these merchants’ access to payment systems and banking services," the lawmakers wrote.

"This list appears to have been created with no public input, no compliance guidance or metrics for private entities to follow, and with disregard for the legality of a merchant’s operation. Further, the list has been used as a pretext by DOJ to limit essential banking services for industries out of favor by this Administration."