July 21, 2023

Congressmen Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, French Hill (R-AR), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion, and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development, introduced H.R. 4763, the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act. Additional cosponsors include Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Warren Davidson (R-OH).

On Friday, July 28, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) will meet to discuss an update on the work of the Nonbank Mortgage Servicing Task Force; Climate-related Financial Risk Committee; and developments in the banking sector.  The preliminary agenda for the public session includes an update on the Council’s Climate-related Financial Risk Committee and an update on the transition from LIBOR.

President Biden announced new steps the Administration is taking to combat rental junk fees in the housing market.

The Biden-Harris Administration announced a cybersecurity certification and labeling program. The new “U.S. Cyber Trust Mark” program proposed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel would raise the requirements for cybersecurity across common devices, including smart refrigerators, smart microwaves, smart televisions, smart climate control systems, smart fitness trackers, and more. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a blog for the 12th anniversary of the CFPB, summarizing the CFPB’s accomplishments since its inception. 

Rohit Chopra, Director of the CFPB, and Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice and Consumer Protection of the European Commission, announced the start of an informal dialogue between the CFPB and the European Commission on a range of critical financial consumer protection issues, including AI and Buy Now, Pay Later products. Read their joint statement here.

The CFPB published a report highlighting the risks employer-driven debt poses to workers. After a review of responses to the CFPB’s public inquiry, the analysis describes the growing prevalence of employer-driven debt and challenges workers and consumers face when they become indebted to an employer or an employer’s affiliate as a condition of employment. The issue spotlight delves into the use of training repayment agreement provisions (TRAPs), which the report says can impede worker mobility, particularly when it comes to obtaining higher wages.

The CFPB sued lease-to-own finance company Snap Finance for deceiving consumers, obscuring the terms of its financing agreements, and making false threats. In a lawsuit filed in federal district court, the CFPB alleges that Snap Finance has offered and provided millions of “lease-purchase” and “rental-purchase” financing agreements in ways that have harmed consumers, including through misleading advertisements, insufficient disclosures, and interfering with consumers’ ability to understand the terms and conditions of its financing agreements. The CFPB further alleges Snap Finance’s illegal conduct continued in its servicing of those agreements, including misrepresenting consumers’ payment obligations and making false threats in collections.

The Federal Reserve announced that the FedNow® Service, its new system for instant payments, is now live. To start, 35 early-adopting banks and credit unions, as well as the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, are ready with instant payments capabilities via the FedNow Service. In addition, 16 service providers are ready to support payment processing for banks and credit unions.

The Federal Reserve Board announced two enforcement actions against Deutsche Bank AG, its New York branch, and other U.S. affiliates. First, the Board issued a consent order and a $186 million fine based on unsafe and unsound practices and violations of the Board’s 2015 and 2017 consent orders with Deutsche Bank relating to sanctions compliance and anti-money laundering controls. Separately, the Board announced a Written Agreement to address other general deficiencies relating to Deutsche Bank’s governance, risk management, and controls.

Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr delivered remarks on furthering the vision of the Fair Housing Act. Vice Chair Barr discussed fair lending supervision and enforcement, fair lending implications of innovation, the Community Reinvestment Act final rule, special purpose credit programs, and policy developments to address appraisal discrimination and bias in housing mortgage credit transactions.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a draft update of the Merger Guidelines, which describe and guide the agencies’ review of mergers and acquisitions to determine compliance with federal antitrust laws. The goal of this update is to better reflect how the agencies determine a merger’s effect on competition in the modern economy and evaluate proposed mergers under the law. Both agencies encourage the public to review the draft and provide feedback through a public comment period that will last 60 days.   

The FTC and more than 100 federal and state law enforcement partners nationwide, including the attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, announced a new crackdown on illegal telemarketing calls involving more than 180 actions targeting operations responsible for billions of calls to U.S. consumers. The joint federal and state initiative, “Operation Stop Scam Calls,” is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to combat the scourge of illegal telemarketing, including robocalls.

The House Small Business Committee held a markup to discuss eight pieces of legislation. Read our summary here

Greg Coleman, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Senior Deputy Comptroller for Large Bank Supervision; Doreen Eberley, Director of the Division of Risk Management Supervision at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); and Michael Gibson, Director of Supervision and Regulation at the Federal Reserve, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy on the agency’s supervision of climate-related financial risks. In his testimony, Mr. Coleman discussed the OCC’s supervision activities at banks over $100 billion in consolidated assets to understand their climate-related financial risks. Read our summary here

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler delivered testimony at a hearing before the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.

SEC Chair Gensler delivered remarks entitled “Isaac Newton to AI” before the National Press Club. 

The SEC Division of Corporation Finance posted a sample letter to companies regarding China-Specific Disclosures. 

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a markup to vote on one package of 11 bills. Read our summary here

A bipartisan group of Senators, including Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), introduced the Crypto-Asset National Security Enhancement and Enforcement (CANSEE) Act. The new, bipartisan legislation would require decentralized finance (DeFi) services to meet the same anti-money laundering (AML) and economic sanctions compliance obligations as other financial companies.

Senator JD Vance (R-OH) introduced the Payroll Account Guarantee Act. The Payroll Account Guarantee Act would grant unlimited deposit insurance to all non-interest-bearing transaction accounts, which are primarily business payroll and operating accounts. The legislation applies to banks with less than $225 billion in assets and all credit unions, fully guaranteeing all operating, business, and payroll accounts at regional and community banks and credit unions.

The House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions convened to hear from key witnesses highlighting the potential consequences of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)’s beneficial ownership rulemaking. Read our summary here

HFSC Ranking Member Maxine Waters convened a roundtable entitled, “Combatting the MAGA Attack: Protecting Environmental, Social, and Governance Policy in Financial Services.” The roundtable included a panel of experts who shared their thoughts and perspectives with Committee members on the importance of ESG. 

Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) sent a letter to SEC Chair Gensler regarding digital asset regulation and the SEC v. Ripple case. Rep. Torres stated in a tweet that “regulating digital assets through enforcement only had a dreadful day in court last week.”

The HFSC Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to examine proxy advisory firms’ influence on America’s capital markets; review metrics used by proxy advisors to measure the impact of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies on long-term value; and identify what factors are prioritized in voting recommendations. Read our summary here

The HFSC Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing on how ESG mandates distort markets and drive up costs for insurance and housing. Read our summary here.

The Atlantic Council GeoEconomics Center held an event entitled “New Rules for Stablecoins and the Future of Payments.” The bipartisan fireside chat brought together Reps. French Hill (R-AR) and Jim Himes (D-CT) to discuss the stablecoin legislation that the House Financial Services Committee is set to move forward, after more than a year of negotiations. Read our summary here.

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) is finalizing its global regulatory framework for crypto-asset activities intended to promote the comprehensiveness and international consistency of regulatory and supervisory approaches.

New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris issued a new circular letter to life insurance companies prohibiting discrimination by offering multiple versions of the same product. 

A group of Democratic Attorneys General responded to a letter sent by Republican AGs to Fortune 100 companies that threatens action against hiring practices that promote a diverse workforce.

The House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (NDAA) in a 219-210 vote, with the bill passing mostly along party lines as opposed to with bipartisan support. Next, the legislation will head to the Senate, which is working on its own version of the NDAA, before the two chambers of Congress conference to finalize the bill’s provisions.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) reintroduced their legislation, the Lummis Gillibrand Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA). Among other things, the legislation requires crypto asset exchanges to register with the CFTC, calls for risk management standards for decentralized crypto asset exchanges, safeguards consumers through enhanced disclosures and limits on crypto asset lending, closes the wash sale loophole, and codifies the criteria to determine which crypto assets are securities or commodities. The legislation also combats the use of crypto assets in illicit finance, imposes new penalties for willfully violating money laundering laws, requires stablecoins to be issued by depository institutions, and provides appropriations to federal agencies to implement the policies within the bill. The section-by-section summary is available here. A one-pager on new provisions in the legislation is available here. The bill text is available here.

The EU–U.S. Joint Financial Regulatory Forum took place on June 27-28, 2023, with participants exchanging views on topics of mutual interest as part of their regular financial regulatory dialogue. The Forum emphasized close ongoing EU and U.S. cooperation in a range of areas and focused on six themes: (1) market developments and financial stability risks; (2) regulatory developments in banking and insurance; (3) anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT); (4) sustainable finance and climate-related financial risks; (5) regulatory and supervisory cooperation in capital markets; and (6) operational resilience and digital finance.

Need to catch up on what happened last week? Check out our July 14th newsletter here.