March, 2021 The Importance of Connections in Advocacy Jordan Grant – Director of Government Relations
In this world few things are as constant as change, a fact which is especially true in the halls of government. As President Biden continues the transition process the changing in Washington D.C. could not be more evident in the shifting attitudes at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CPFB).
This shift in attitudes of regulatory agencies at the federal level are summed up by the comments made by Acting Director Dave Uejio who made it clear the bureau would step up enforcement efforts in contrast to the prior administration’s policies This attitude was reiterated by President Biden’s nominee to lead the bureau, Rohit Chopra during his confirmation hearing in the Senate.
Additionally, the President’s expected nominee for the post, Mehrsa Baradran, is seen as the most progressive candidate and would be tasked with changing the agency from being seen as friendly with the banking industry. The expectation, if nominated, would be for Baradran to accomplish this task by making OCC tougher on regulatory enforcement similar to the FDIC or the Federal Reserve.
This change in attitude is mirrored in Congress, where Representative Jim Clyburn who chairs the Select Committee on COVID-19 sent a letter to the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the Acting Administrator of the SBA. The letter asks for the agencies to review implementation of PPP for discriminatory lending practices. As Representative Clyburn is the third ranking member of the House of Representatives and is seen as widely responsible for President Biden winning the Democratic Nomination last year so it is expected his request will be honored.
These changes highlight the importance for community bankers to begin connecting with their elected officials and communicate the important role their banks play in their community. The community banking story, particularly during the pandemic, is a powerful one as community banks were responsible for a plurality of loans issued under the PPP program including minority owned businesses who could not get their loan processed by a larger bank.
As the industry can expect tougher enforcement and pressure from the federal government over the next several years it is crucial for us to step up our advocacy efforts on behalf of the industry. The first step in this process is to join PACB’s participation in the Virtual Capital Summit held by ICBA on April 27th. From 10-3:00pm we will arrange for community bankers from around Pennsylvania to meet with their congressional delegation to tell the community banking story and to advocate on behalf of the industry.
For Community Bankers interested in advocating on behalf of their bank and their employees, I encourage you to reach out to me at Jordan@pacb.orgfor more information.