Jim Saksa

Democrats pan, Republicans applaud Kraninger's tenure at CFPB
Director mum on agency's need to exist

At a hearing Thursday, Democrats castigated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen Kraninger, who wasn't willing to say that her agency needs to exist. 

House panel asks whether legislation can keep cash as king
Electronic payments taking greater market share

At some uncertain point in the future, printing cash may be a waste of money. As Americans increasingly rely on credit cards, online transfers, mobile apps and cryptocurrencies to complete transactions, a House panel debated Thursday the promise and potential pitfalls of a cashless society.  

In recent years, some stores have decided they’d rather not ask “paper or plastic?” to customers at checkout. Instead, they’ve gone cash free, accepting only smartphone apps like Apple Pay, mobile payments like Venmo, or debit and credit cards.

Rules, privacy issues loom for fintech industry in 2020
Advocates foresee sparse congressional activity for 2020

The nascent financial technology industry started the year faintly optimistic that the 116th Congress would pass bills in its favor. But as 2019 comes to an end without legislation, the industry isn’t even expecting action in 2020. And for that, they’re feeling relieved, not disappointed.

Facebook Inc.’s midyear announcement that it planned to launch a cryptocurrency, Libra, upended the industry’s focus, tilting the legislative strategy from pressing hard for beneficial bills to staying clear of measures aimed at checking the social media giant’s ambitions to transform commerce.

Libra’s regulatory hurdles appear taller after House hearing
Still to be decided: How the cryptocurrency would be regulated

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg provided only a few additional details about the company’s proposed cryptocurrency to a House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 23 that generally didn’t like what it heard. 

Zuckerberg said Facebook wouldn’t proceed with the proposed Libra until it had satisfied regulators’ concerns. That pledge and the harsh criticism from lawmakers on both sides the aisle appears to narrow, if not eliminate, the company’s path to approval, at least for a project as sweepingly ambitious as Libra is.

Maxine Waters said Freeman was on her side. Andy Barr said so too
CQ Roll Call called the CEO of the Kentucky business

The House Financial Services Committee has been mired in debate for two days over China and reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, an agency that supports U.S. exporters by helping finance deals with foreign buyers.

This past summer, Republicans said they had a deal with Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., to include provisions in the reauthorization bill that would restrict its ability to finance transactions with Chinese state-owned enterprises. But labor-backed Democrats, led by Rep. Denny Heck of Washington, balked, saying it would unduly restrict big exporters like Boeing Co.

Senators seek GOP support for bill to crack down on anonymous shell companies
Bill seeks to make it harder for criminals and terrorists to hide assets and launder money

After only 25 House Republicans voted for passage of a bill that would curb the use of anonymous shell companies, the bipartisan drafters of a Senate version are negotiating tweaks designed to win more GOP support.

The House on Tuesday voted 249-173 to pass its version of the bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, after adding the text of another bill from Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri that would update the nation’s anti-money laundering laws.

Zuckerberg threatened with Facebook breakup
At hearing, lawmakers press founder and CEO over Libra cryptocurrency plan

Zuckerberg to face criticism over cryptocurrency, other issues
Democrats and Republicans will interrogate the Facebook CEO on Wednesday over a number of issues

A conciliatory-sounding Mark Zuckerberg will face questions Wednesday about Facebook’s world-altering ambitions from congressional critics of both parties.

Democrats and Republicans are expected to interrogate the Facebook CEO over the plan to launch Libra, a cryptocurrency pegged to a basket of global currencies and managed by a consortium of multinational corporations, as well as the company’s role in the spread of political propaganda, alleged violations of housing legislation, dominance of online advertising, monetization of users’ data and censoring of right-wing media.

Rise of fintech weakens law to prevent lending discrimination
The number of bank branches with a Community Reinvestment Act obligation to provide loans and other services is falling

As online banking threatens to make in-person banking at brick-and-mortar branches as archaic as video rental stores, it may do the same to a 1977 law created to counteract decades of underinvestment in minority neighborhoods.

The Community Reinvestment Act was Congress’ response all those years ago to redlining — the practice of discriminatory lending that denied or offered more expensive credit to minorities and the poor and led to urban blight and white flight from city centers.

House may join money laundering, disclosure bills to gain votes
The two bills are expected to be merged and then will head to the House floor soon after Congress returns from recess

A pair of anti-money laundering bills are expected to be merged and head to the House floor soon after Congress returns from recess.

The House Financial Services Committee voted 55-0 in May to advance one of the bills, a measure co-sponsored by Democrat Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri and Republican Steve Stivers of Ohio, that would update the framework used by federal investigators to combat money laundering.

Democrats seek info on CFPB official’s ties to Christian group
Paul Watkins spent three years at the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom

Updated | A group of Democrats, including presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are continuing to pressure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over a senior official’s ties to a conservative Christian group.

In a letter sent Wednesday to CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger, Warren — along with Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Katie Porter of California — demanded documents related to hiring Paul Watkins as director of the Office of Innovation, which has the power to grant fintech firms limited immunity from consumer protection laws.

Sherrod Brown uses stock buyback bill announcement to give fellow Dems campaign advice

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio wants his Democratic colleagues running for president to plagiarize his favorite line.

“I want our presidential candidates to talk more about the dignity of work,” he said at a press conference Wednesday to announce a new bill to force public companies to pay workers a special “dividend” whenever they increase the amounts returned to shareholders.

GOP senators uneasy with Fed pick on gold, deposit insurance
Questioning a return to the gold standard and eliminating federal deposit insurance

Republican senators have expressed concerns about Judy Shelton, one of President Donald Trump’s picks for the Federal Reserve Board, over her support for a return to the gold standard and eliminating federal deposit insurance, but, so far, are holding back from publicly opposing her nomination.

Trump tweeted his intention in early July to nominate Shelton and Christopher Waller to the two vacant seats on the seven-member Fed board. Waller, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, is seen by most observers as a conventional pick, but Shelton’s decades-long advocacy for resurrecting the Bretton Woods monetary system has put her at odds with most economists and some Republican senators. The system pegged the dollar to the price of gold and other currencies to the dollar.

Senate Banking members take skeptical look at cryptocurrencies
Blockchain firms have tried selling lawmakers on the potential for dramatically reduced transaction costs.

Concerns over data privacy and skepticism about just how unique and beneficial cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based digital assets could be dominated Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on regulating the new technology.

“This new digital currency and blockchain technology is a very real — and potentially helpful — innovation,” said Chairman Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho. “It’s also potentially harmful as there can be some serious risk involved in it.”

Lawmakers hint at regulatory models for Facebook cryptocurrency
Libra: ‘Which is it, fish or fowl?’

House members suggested Wednesday that Facebook Inc.‘s proposed cryptocurrency could be deemed an exchange-traded fund, a currency or a commodity, all of which could require some degree of regulatory oversight.

“What we’re struggling with is: What are you?” said Democratic Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter summing up a four-hour House Financial Services Committee grilling of a company executive about the proposed cryptocurrency known as Libra.

Facebook cryptocurrency stirs worry and support in both parties
Top Democrat urges Fed and regulators to protect consumers and economy from Facebook’s ‘monopoly money’

Facebook Inc. got a preview Wednesday of what to expect next week when executives come to testify about plans to launch Libra, a digital currency and online payment system.

At a hearing Wednesday morning, Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee peppered Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell with questions about how the central bank would respond to Libra.

Fed’s Powell says Trump couldn’t push him to resign
The Fed chairman also said he shared concerns among lawmakers about Facebook Inc.’s proposal to launch a cryptocurrency

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a House panel Wednesday that he would not resign if President Donald Trump ordered him to step down.

Powell, who has been excoriated by Trump on Twitter for his management of the Fed and the nation’s monetary policy, told House Financial Services members he would serve out his term. He made his comments during his semi-annual testimony to the committee.

GOP senators sound optimistic about Trump’s new Fed picks
They’re at least faring better than the president’s last two picks

A week after President Donald Trump tweeted his intention to nominate Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller to the Federal Reserve Board, GOP senators are expressing cautious optimism about both picks, despite Shelton’s unorthodox views on monetary policy.

They’re at least better than the president’s previous two picks — Stephen Moore and Herman Cain dropped out before they were officially nominated — said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Alabama. “Well, we haven’t evaluated them yet, but the previous two were lacking in a lot of things,” he said.

Financial Services bill loaded with hot-button issues may signal trouble ahead
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 116

House Democrats passed the Financial Services spending bill that includes some controversial provisions, says CQ Roll Call’s banking reporter Jim Saksa. Those include blocking money for a border wall, increasing funding to enforce sanctions on Iran and allowing the District of Columbia to fund abortions.

House panel advances anti-money laundering bill with only some GOP support
Backers hope it’ll be enough to move in the Senate

After holding an anti-money laundering bill for a month in the hopes of winning over the committee’s top ranking Republican, the House Financial Services Committee advanced it without him on Wednesday, in a move that could ultimately undermine the odds of passing it through the Senate.

The legislation would require corporations and limited liability companies to report who actually owns them to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, in the hopes of curbing the use of anonymous shell companies for hiding illicit assets from criminal investigators and tax officials.