Senate Democrats Reintroduce Fair Access to Financial Services Act
Last week, a group of Democratic Senators led by Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) reintroduced the Fair Access to Financial Services Act, legislation that prohibits banks from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. The bill would ensure that all consumers get equal treatment when accessing goods and services at financial institutions.
“Too many Black and brown Americans experience racial profiling and unequal treatment when trying to access services at banks and other financial institutions, and don’t have anywhere to turn to hold financial institutions accountable,” Sen. Brown said in a statement. “Our legislation explicitly outlaws discrimination in our nation’s financial system so that everyone can access financial services free from harassment and abuse.”
American Banker noted that although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination from many public institutions, it did not include financial institutions.
Several large banks in the U.S. have received backlash for alleged discriminatory practices. In 2018, Bank of America assumed film director Ryan Coogler was a bank robber when trying to withdraw money from his own account. Wells Fargo was criticized for denying over half of its Black refinancing applicants in 2020, and JPMorgan Chase is being sued for refusing to open an account for a Black customer.
“In 2022, no American should ever have to worry about being discriminated against when trying to open a bank account, getting a mortgage, or starting a small business,” said Senator Warnock (D-Ga.).
In addition to Brown and Warnock, the bill was also co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).