The legislation, approved by the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th Congress, would prevent federal agencies from ordering financial institutions to terminate banking relationships without “material reason.”
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., is continuing his effort to curb Operation Choke Point by introducing H.R. 2706, the Financial Institution Consumer Protection Act, in the 115th Congress.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, which would end Operation Choke Point, in a 250-169 bipartisan vote in February 2016. The bill, which ACA International supported, prohibits federal regulators from directly or indirectly coercing banks to terminate relationships with legitimate business entities “unless the regulator has material reason,” ACA previously reported.
“Last Congress, the House of Representatives took the first step in putting an end, once and for all, to Operation Choke Point by passing my legislation,” Luetkemeyer said in a May 25 news release. “Although there is a new Administration and Department of Justice (DOJ) in place, this legislation is necessary to ensure that no future Administration will have the opportunity to negatively impact individuals and legal businesses through this unprecedented initiative. We must continue to demand greater transparency and end the practice of allowing government bureaucrats to use personal and political motivations to block financial services to licensed, legally-operating businesses.”
Operation Choke Point is a program in which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and DOJ reportedly applied pressure to financial institutions in order to cut off financial services to certain licensed, legally operating industries, including debt collection. The House Financial Services Committee passed the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2015 (H.R. 766) by a 35-19 vote in June 2015.
In April 2015, ACA International’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to support legislation and policy changes that would bring an end to Operation Choke Point. In June, ACA launched a grassroots campaign in which nearly 2,000 members sent emails to 340 members of Congress urging them to end Operation Choke Point.
Luetkemeyer, a speaker at ACA International’s Washington Insights Conferences, discussed Operation Choke Point with ACA members during the event in 2015.
According to the news release from Luetkemeyer’s office, “the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act would dictate that agencies such as the (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, among others, could not request or order a financial institution to terminate a banking relationship unless the regulator has material reason. Any account termination requests or orders would be required to be made in writing and rely on information other than reputational risk. In addition, the legislation strikes the word “affecting” in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), replacing it with “by” or “against.” This is to ensure that the (DOJ’s) once broad interpretation of the law is limited and the original intent of the statute is restored.”
ACA International will continue to follow the status of the legislation and keep ACA members apprised of developments
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