Rep. Maxine Waters Lists Policy Priorities for House Financial Services Committee
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) delivered her first policy speech as Chair of the House Financial Services Committee where she outlined several different policy priorities for 2019. Her speech included monitoring the growth of the financial technology (fintech) industry and ensuring that federal regulators continue adhering to the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. The policy priorities she listed are summarized below.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Financial Regulation
In her speech, Waters talked about the importance of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP), why it was created, and the positive work it has done since its conception. Waters then accused the Trump Administration, Congressional Republicans, and the former Acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, of attempting to undermine and destroy the CFPB.
“I am going to be working diligently to undo the damage that Mulvaney has wrought during his time at the Consumer Bureau,” Waters said. “I have a bill, the Consumers First Act, that reverses many of his known harmful actions, which I will soon be reintroducing.”
Waters also shared that she will be, “keeping a watchful eye on all of the financial regulators to make sure that they are carrying out their statutory duties, including holding bad actors accountable, and promoting financial stability.” Specifically, Waters said she will be paying close attention to the growth of fintech in the American economy. She stated that although fintech companies have increased access to credit, “there must be strong protections for consumers of these financial products and that abusive payday lending practices must not be allowed.”
Waters also made some comments on the credit reporting system. “We need to shift the burden of removing mistakes from credit reports onto the credit bureaus and furnishers, and away from consumers,” said Waters. She wants to limit credit checks for employment purposes and reduce the time period that negative items stay on credit reports. Waters is calling for a complete overhaul.
Another issue Waters wants to address as the chair of the committee is affordable housing and homelessness. To tackle this, Waters is calling on Congress to provide more funding and resources via her bill, the Ending Homelessness Act, which would provide more than ten billion dollars in funding over five years to prevent homelessness.
Waters fervently stated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not cause the financial crisis, but made clear the need for reform. She also said she would reintroduce the Restoring Fair Housing Protection Act which she argued would “reverse the harmful steps taken by Secretary Carson and the Trump Administration to undermine fair housing.”
Diversity and Inclusion
Waters also stated that although America is becoming more diverse, government reports show that minorities and women have a low representation in the financial services industry. Waters argues that diversity and inclusion, especially at the management level, is a priority to ensure all consumers have fair access to credit, capital and banking, and financial services.
During her speech, Waters announced that she will be creating a Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, which would be “dedicated to looking at diversity and inclusion issues under the Committee’s jurisdiction.”
For international affairs, Waters says that the committee “will ensure that accountability and effectiveness at the international financial institutions remain strong, that broad public debate about the [International Monetary Fund’s] and the multilateral development banks’ policies remain active, and that the international interests of poverty alleviation, growth, and economic stability continue to be advanced.”
Waters stated that she would focus the committee’s efforts on the World Bank’s fight to end global poverty. This may include pressuring the Bank and other financial institutions to focus on the social dimension of problems when decisions about economic assistance are made.
In regards to sanctions, Waters states that the Administration’s approach to Russian sanctions “has been haphazard and weak, as well as inconsistent with its approach to sanctions imposed on other countries, such as Iran.”
Specifically, Waters pointed out the recent efforts to lift sanctions on Oleg Seipaska who has an alleged history with Paul Manafort. Waters promises to work with both chambers and across the aisle to ensure that the strongest possible sanctions against Russian are implemented.
Finally, Waters finished her speech by addressing how she will continue to find areas for bipartisan work on the committee, including long-term reauthorization and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Terrorism Risk Insurance (TRIA), and the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.