March 13, 2024

President Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024, a group of six spending bills, in advance of the partial government shutdown deadline. The Consolidated Appropriations Act partially funds the government through September 30, 2024, when the U.S. government’s fiscal year ends. Congress will direct attention to a second appropriations package prior to March 22. 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released the General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2025 Revenue Proposals, or “Greenbook,” to explain the revenue proposals included in President Biden’s budget. The Greenbook outlines the tax proposals that will support President Biden’s budget. The Greenbook contains proposals aimed at the digital asset industry to increase tax compliance and the Digital Asset Mining Energy excise tax that would phase in progressively over three years a tax equal to 30% of the costs of electricity used in digital asset mining.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office published the results of their joint study on the intellectual property (IP) law and policy implications of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The Offices conducted the study in response to a June 2022 request from then-Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Thom Tillis. The study concludes, among other things, “public education initiatives and product transparency play an important role in ensuring greater awareness and understanding about NFTs.”

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu discussed the importance of operational resiliency in remarks at the Institute of International Bankers Annual Washington Conference. In his remarks, Mr. Hsu discussed the growing risks of disruptions that may impede the provision of financial services or adversely impact systems. He also discussed considerations to strengthen operational resiliency requirements for large banks with critical operations, including third party service providers.

To help facilitate recovery efforts from wildfires in Hawaii last year, The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB or Fed), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) temporarily paused certain appraisal requirements for real estate-related transactions in Maui County. This temporary action is expected to allow banks and credit unions to work with families and businesses without obtaining an appraisal. Banks and credit unions will still be required to determine that the value of the real estate supports the institution’s decision to enter into the transaction.

FDIC Vice Chairman Travis Hill delivered remarks at the Mercatus Center on “Banking’s Next Chapter? Remarks on Tokenization and Other Issues.” Vice Chairman Hill discussed potential benefits, challenges, and risks of tokenization, the regulatory approach to tokenization and need for clarity, and custody. Vice Chairman Hill also discussed bank failures, and stated that while if a bank is insolvent or does not have a viable future authorities should move swiftly and decisively to put the institution into receivership, weak banks can and often do survive and recover and authorities should be thoughtful in considering policy choices that may further cripple wounded institutions and reinforce the procyclicality of the current system.

The NCUA released its 2023 Fourth Quarter Credit Union System Performance Data. According to the data, total assets in federally insured credit unions rose by $88 billion, or 4.1 percent, to $2.26 trillion over the year ending in the fourth quarter of 2023. Insured shares and deposits grew $37 billion, or 2.2 percent, to $1.72 trillion. The delinquency rate at federally insured credit unions was 83 basis points in the fourth quarter of 2023, up 21 basis points from one year earlier.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an advisory to student loan borrowers that the opportunity to cancel student loan debt ends soon. The deadline to act is April 30.

The CFPB published a blog on junk fees in housing costs, calling for consumers to submit complaints with the CFPB and to tell their stories about their mortgages and closing costs. The blog states that the CFPB is working on improving the ability of homeowners to refinance their mortgages, reducing risks for borrowers who fall behind on their mortgage payments, and making it easier for consumers to submit debt collection complaints to the CFPB about rental housing.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it is sending more than $4.1 million in refunds to people who lost money to student loan debt relief scammers who lured consumers with fake loan forgiveness claims and pocketed their money. The scheme used many names including Mission Hills Federal, Federal Direct Group, National Secure Processing, and The Student Loan Group.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge announced that she will be stepping down effective March 22, 2024. House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) released a statement that the country has benefited immensely from Secretary Fudge’s leadership.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced insider trading charges against Roy Cook, a former board member of Tallgrass Energy LP, and four of his friends for trading on material nonpublic information in advance of a public announcement that Blackstone Infrastructure Partners had offered to acquire Tallgrass and take it private. The SEC also charged Cook for failing to file required disclosure reports concerning securities transactions by family trusts. All five of the defendants agreed to settlements that, in aggregate, include more than $2.2 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Rostin Behnam delivered a keynote address at the FIA Boca 2024 International Futures Industry Conference. Chairman Behnam discussed the CFTC’s agenda focusing on risk management and resilience; customer protections; efficiency and innovation; reporting and data policy; duplicative regulatory requirements; and international comity. Chairman Behnam also addressed struggles some have had “in articulating differentiations between Commission rulemakings, policy determinations, and the straightforward exercise of its authorities” when it comes to digital assets, and stated that these stories “ are fed by inaccurate narratives illustrative of what I can only believe is an overt hyperfocus on the sensational over the less than attention-grabbing substance of an industry regulator engaging in the business-as-usual meeting of our statutory directives.”

The House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee held hearings with FRB Chair Jerome Powell to discuss the Federal Reserve’s Semi-Annual Monetary Policy Report. The hearings focused on many topics including the Basel III Endgame proposal, inflation, bank mergers, property insurance, and the prospects of a potential Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Read our summary of the hearings here.

Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC) sent a letter to FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg renewing his demands for information from the FDIC regarding allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and other workplace misconduct at the agency. Last December, Ranking Member Scott led fellow Banking Committee Republicans in calling on FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg to provide detailed information regarding the recent allegations, and to resign as Chairman and Board Member. 

The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced that it has named Margaret Liu as General Counsel and welcomed Leonard Chanin as Chief Counsel to the President. Both appointments are effective immediately. Liu joined CSBS in 2009 after serving as a financial services policy consultant and holding a variety of positions at Fannie Mae. Chanin comes to CSBS from Discover Financial Services where he served as Deputy General Counsel and Senior Vice President. Before joining Discover, Chanin served as a senior advisor to Federal Reserve Board Governor Michelle Bowman, Deputy to the Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Assistant Director of the Office of Regulations of the CFPB. 

Need to catch up on what happened last week? Check out our March 8th End of Week Wrap Up here