Last week was one of my proudest moments in my 22 year tenure as CEO of IBAT. To see nearly 200 community bankers, associates and spouses cram the offices and hallways leading to our Texas Congressional offices was an amazing sight. It was, by far, the largest gathering of Texas community bankers to ever assemble in Washington at one time.
And how timely the visit was. Major legislation to delay or modify the most onerous provisions of Dodd-Frank are hanging in the balance. A major vote on delaying the implementation of the Durbin interchange provision is expected soon in the United States Senate. Texas Senators Hutchison and Cornyn have joined the ranks of Senators who have committed to vote for the delay, moving us closer to the magical 60 votes that are needed to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate. The United States House of Representatives stands poised to pass a similar bill as soon as the Senate acts.
House and Senate Republicans stand united in their opposition to confirming a director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until the new agency is subjected to additional Congressional oversight and appropriations. IBAT will continue to advocate for such oversight.
IBAT has been a leader in attempting to reinstate Regulation Q, the long-standing prohibition against paying interest on corporate accounts. Significant progress was made in finding bill sponsors to delay its implementation to allow Congress to look at modifications to Regulation D and expand the number of permissible monthly money market transactions.
We reinforced the need for comprehensive regulatory relief for community banks. Over the coming weeks we will work hard to secure Texas co-sponsors for H.R. 1697, the 2011 Communities First Act recently introduced by Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer from Missouri.
IBAT and the Subchapter S Bank Association are also taking the lead on behalf of the nation’s 2300 Subchapter S banks to introduce legislation that would allow Subchapter S banks to raise additional capital through the issuance of preferred stock shares. We expect Senator Hutchison to drop a bill any day.
Finally, we urged our Congressional officials to reject any efforts by credit unions or Farm Credit Banks to expand their business lending practices.
Our “leave behind”, summarizing key issues, can be accessed here.
Earlier in the week, IBAT led a delegation of some 24 state community bank executives and bankers to the offices of the FDIC to push for further modification and clarification to their Overdraft Guidance. We encouraged the FDIC to allow banks the option of following the guidance OR providing opt-in (for new customers) and opt-out disclosure to existing customers as a safe harbor. Such an alternative would reduce examiner discretion in interpreting compliance with the guidance.
As you can see, it was a very busy trip. All of us owe a tremendous thanks to the many bankers who took time at their own expense away from their banks to advocate on behalf of our industry. We all know that things do not happen quickly in Washington and each of these initiatives will require our patience and tenacity. I hope you will be quick to respond when we put out the call to contact your elected officials in Washington.
It is a pleasure to represent this great industry.
-Chris Williston, IBAT President & CEO
2011 Congressional Visit Report
Last week, 193 Texas community bankers and IBAT family made the trek to Washington DC to participate in IBAT’s 19th Annual Congressional Visit. We were honored to have Texas Banking Commissioner Charles Cooper accompany us on our visit.
The action-packed two day program began with a reception on Tuesday evening, moved to a breakfast briefing on Wednesday morning, and then was followed with “walking the hill” to meet personally with the vast majority of the Texas Congressional Delegation. By mid-afternoon, everyone was happy to crowd into a hearing room in the Rayburn Building to simply sit down and listen and ask questions when time allowed. Representatives Canseco, Al Green, Hensarling, McCaul, and Neugebauer dropped by to provide their perspectives on key Texas and banking issues impacting community bankers. Later that afternoon, the IBAT delegation moved over to the Senate Visitor’s Center to hear Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison describe not only banking issues, but a personal account of meeting fellow Texan Admiral McCraven and his description of the successful strike on Bin Laden. Sen. John Cornyn was unable to participate in the group discussion due to his involvement in a hearing. We were also pleased to have Congressmen Brady and Cuellar join us in between votes on the House floor.
While the banking issues (regulatory burden, Communities First Act (CFA), debit interchange price fixing, Reg Q, credit union competition, overdraft protection, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rules, Farm Credit System and allowing Sub S preferred stock, among others) are not new to IBAT members, the impressive number of Texas community bankers present for both the meetings and group briefings made a bold statement that every elected leader noted.
The Congressional Visit ended on Thursday morning with a breakfast briefing and candid Q&A session that included 11 FDIC officers and was led by FDIC Director Thomas Curry. Mr. Curry serves as Chairman of the FDIC’s Assessment Appeals Committee and Case Review Committee. The bulk of the discussion was with Mark Pearce, Director of the FDIC’s Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection. The Texas community bankers pressed Pearce for an explanation on aspects of the overdraft guidance. The program concluded with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) senior staffers Elizabeth Vale and Zixta Martinez, who provided an overview of the agency, discussed their scope of work and their first project in simplifying and consolidating the TELA and RESPA forms. Vale is the Team Lead for Community Banks and Credit Unions. Martinez is the Associate Director for Consumer Education and Engagement. For a full view of the CFPB initiatives, go to www.consumerfinance.gov.
The IBAT Executive Committee, Board and Staff thank everyone who attended the 2011 Congressional Visit. We hope every member of the IBAT family will consider being a part of this effort next year.
Special thanks to our sponsors:
Federal Home Loan Bank
Advantage Health Plans Trust
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies – Scholarships
Federated Investors, Inc.