Congress nullifies OCC “true lender” rule
The House of Representatives voted 218-208 to approve S.J.Res.15, which overturns the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s October 2020 rule on “National Banks and Federal Savings Associations as Lenders.” The OCC’s so-called “true lender” rule established that loans are exempt from state usury limits if the loan agreement named a national bank as lender, or if a national bank funded the loan. The Senate approved the resolution by a vote of 52-47 last month.
CDC extends eviction moratorium, White House calls for summit
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced last week that it would extend the federal moratorium on evictions through July 31, 2021, while the White House announced several actions intended to distribute emergency assistance in ways that will prevent evictions and foreclosures on August 1. Congress has allocated a total of more than $46 billion to emergency rental assistance, but Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge told the House Budget Committee that a lack of guidance to state and local authorities has created bottlenecks in distribution of those funds. The Treasury Department issued additional guidance last week in the form of fact sheets and answers to frequently asked questions. The White House will convene a Summit for Immediate Eviction Prevention Plans in collaboration with legal groups that will bring together local government, judicial, legal, and community leaders from 50 cities to develop community-specific solutions.
Leadership change at FHFA after Supreme Court ruling
The Supreme Court ruled last Wednesday in Collins v. Yellen that the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) had not exceeded its authority in requiring that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make quarterly payments to the Treasury equal to “their entire net worth minus a small specified capital reserve.” The Court also found that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act’s provisions granting the FHFA Director a five-year term, without being subject to Presidential removal, were unconstitutional. By the end of the day, the White House had requested and received the resignation of Director Mark A. Calabria, and announced that Sandra L. Thompson would be Acting Director of the FHFA until a permanent successor has been nominated and confirmed. Thompson has been Deputy Director of the Division of Housing Mission and Goals since 2013; she previously spent more than 23 years at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, leaving as Director of its Division of Risk Management.
Treasury nominees promise to review, enforce sanctions
Sanctions against China, Russia, and Iran were the focus of questions at last Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on the nominations of Brian Eddie Nelson to be Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Crimes and Elizabeth Rosenberg to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing. Rosenberg, who has been working on anti-money laundering and counter-financial terrorism policy since 2009, called for a “creative, rigorous, and targeted approach” to protecting US security through financial regulation and enforcement.” She agreed with Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA), the Committee’s ranking member, that the US could levy and enforce financial sanctions against Iran on a separate track from any negotiations to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear activity. Nelson, who noted that Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) had not had a confirmed head for two years, promised to prioritize the implementation of last year’s update of anti-money laundering and counter-financial terrorism laws.
Financial system is healthy, regulators say
The heads of the federal financial regulatory agencies visited the White House last Monday to report on the system’s condition and discuss regulatory priorities for the post-pandemic recovery. Monday’s meeting included Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell, Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Jelena McWilliams, Acting Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam, Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Chair Dave Uejio, and Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu. The White House said the conversation covered implementation of the President’s executive order on climate risks, and how to promote financial inclusion and responsible access to credit for would-be homeowners.
Senators agree that US must re-engage on Asia-Pacific trade
The Chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness agreed on the need to make Asia-Pacific trade a priority at a hearing last Tuesday. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) urged the US to pursue membership in the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP), perhaps with the addition of some of the provisions similar to those included in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Witnesses warned that if the United States does not pursue multilateral trade agreements in Asia, it will become too easy for China to assert its economic and political will in the region.
Fed extends PPP Liquidity Facility to July 30
Banks, community development financial institutions, and other financial institutions will have an additional 30 days to seek funding for loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program, the Fed announced. The Secretary of the Treasury approved the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF), which had been scheduled to expire on June 30.
Supreme Court narrows standing for class action suit against TransUnion
In a 5-4 decision published last Friday, the Supreme Court held that “Only plaintiffs concretely harmed by a defendant’s statutory violation” have standing to seek damages against that defendant. A group of 8,185 people who had received alerts that TransUnion had flagged their names against the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of terrorists and serious criminals sued TransUnion under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Rather than ruling on whether FCRA offered relief to those plaintiffs, the Court ruled in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez that only the 1,853 class members whose misleading credit reports were provided to third parties had standing to seek damages. The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision, which had upheld a District Court decision awarding damages to all class members, and remanded the case to the lower court. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas led the dissent, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
House Judiciary Committee approves six antitrust bills
A package of six antitrust bills is on its way to the House floor after last week’s markup in the House Judiciary Committee. Each of the six bills has both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) praised the bipartisan effort. The bills would adjust raise merger filing fees for large transactions while lowering them for smaller ones; make it easier for state attorneys general when the venues of antitrust enforcement actions change; give the Federal Trade Commission new enforcement tools; ban anticompetitive mergers among the largest online platforms; prohibit dominant online platforms from steering business to their own products; and authorize the FTC and Department of Justice to take action to prevent dominant online platforms from exercising monopoly power to destroy competition.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
- Kiran Arjandas Ahuja was confirmed as Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.
The Week Ahead in Washington
The Senate is out this week. The House will be in for at least three days of frenzied work before its official District Work Period begins on July 5. The House will vote on HR 3684, the INVEST in America Act to reauthorize federal highway funds and make other infrastructure investments, on Tuesday or Wednesday.
June 29 at 10:00 a.m. House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on “A Biased, Broken System: Examining Proposals to Overhaul Credit Reporting to Achieve Equity.”
June 29 at 10:30 a.m. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy holds a hearing on “The CLEAN Future Act and Electric Transmission: Delivering Clean Power to the People.”
June 29 at 3:00 p.m. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion holds a hearing on “The Legacy of George Floyd: An Examination of Financial Services Industry Commitments to Economic and Racial Justice.”
June 30 at 10:00 a.m. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations holds a hearing on “America on ‘FIRE’: Will the Crypto Frenzy Lead to Financial Independence and Early Retirement or Financial Ruin?”
June 30 at 10:30 a.m. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology holds a hearing on “A Safe Wireless Future: Securing our Networks and Supply Chains.”
June 30 at 2:00 p.m. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions holds a hearing on “Addressing Climate as a Systemic Risk: The Need to Build Resilience Within our Banking and Financial System.”
June 30 at 2:00 p.m. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis holds a hearing on “Transportation Investments for Solving the Climate Crisis.”
The Ellis Insight
Jim Ellis reports on political news
Colorado: To date, Sen. Michael Bennet (D) has had a free ride to re-election for a third full term, but a potential Republican challenger confirms he is considering launching his candidacy. Air Force veteran Eli Bremer, who represented the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympics in the pentathlon event and will serve as an NBC Sports commentator in the upcoming 2021 games, confirms he met with National Republican Senatorial Committee officials but has yet to make any final decision about running.
Colorado: The new Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission released its first preliminary map of the new redistricting cycle using Census Bureau estimates as their basis. While utilizing estimates and sampling is not permitted under a 1996 US Supreme Court ruling, the first draw does give us an idea of where Colorado’s new seat might be placed. Answer: the area north of Denver that includes the Arvada-Westminster-Thornton area, which would serve as the anchor population for the state’s new 8th Congressional District.
FL-7: Over the past few weeks, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) was making news in deciding whether she would run statewide either for Senate or Governor, and now it appears she may have a fight on her hands to keep the position she currently holds.
Three GOP US Representatives, Neil Dunn (R-Panama City), Brian Mast (R-Palm City), and Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), jointly endorsed Army Bronze Star recipient Cory Mills (R), who recently announced his challenge to Rep. Murphy. The move suggests that legislators will target the 7th District in the redistricting process for a return to the Republican column. With neighboring Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) running for Governor and a new seat likely headed for the Orlando area, the GOP map drawers should have the opportunity of making Rep. Murphy’s 7th District more Republican.
GA-6: It has been speculated upon for some time that Georgia Ethics Commission chairman Jake Evans (R) would challenge two-term Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) in the 2022 congressional race. Early this week, Mr. Evans resigned his position, which is likely the first step in him becoming a candidate. He might find an already difficult task becoming even harder, however.
Expect the 6th District to be drawn more heavily Democratic in redistricting to tip the adjoining 7th CD of freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) to the Republican column. GOP legislators, who control the redistricting process, will likely attempt to regain one of the two Atlanta metro seats lost to the Democrats by conceding one in order to enhance a Republican challenge in the other district.
IA-2: The 2020 election cycle did not turn out well for former Democratic state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart, as she ended up losing the open congressional race by a miniscule six votes to freshman House member Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa). Now, the political tea leaves are suggesting Ms. Hart will not return for a re-match. A local Iowa political blog is suggesting the Democratic leadership is looking at freshman state Rep. Christina Bohannon (D-Iowa City) as a potential congressional candidate. Ms. Bohannon is a law professor at the University of Iowa outside of her legislative duties.
NM-2: Last week, it was learned that President Biden is going to appoint former US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) to a position in the US Department of Agriculture. Ms. Torres Small accepting the post will likely take her away from attempting to reclaim the congressional seat she lost in November to freshman Rep. Yvette Harrell (R-Alamogordo) after serving one term.
New Mexico’s 2nd District is the state’s southern seat where the oil and gas industry is a key employer. Right of center outside organizations and Ms. Harrell effectively used the energy issue to oust Rep. Torres Small, 54-46%, and was one of the seats that fell to the GOP after then-candidate Joe Biden confirmed in the second presidential debate that his long-term goal was to eliminate the fossil fuel industry.
NY-22: The nation’s second closest congressional race, New York Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-New Hartford) 109 vote victory over then-Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), also won’t see a re-match. Late last week, Mr. Brindisi said he would not return to challenge Rep. Tenney in what will be a very different district.
With New York losing a congressional seat, it appears that this southwestern New York area, and particularly so with neighboring US Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) retiring, could witness two districts collapsed into one. Doing so, and both districts are way low on population so such a draw would likely pass legal muster, would likely make Rep. Tenney more vulnerable in a Republican primary than in the next general election.
PA-7: In the middle of last week, former Lehigh County Commissioner and manufacturing business owner Lisa Scheller (R) announced that she will return for a re-match with Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) next year. The Congresswoman was re-elected on a 52-48% count. Redistricting will change this district, but it is probable that the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton seat will remain as a competitive CD.
Alabama: State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), who had declared a 2018 Republican primary challenge to Gov. Kay Ivey but backed away before the candidate filing deadline, announced in the early part of last week that he is forming a 2022 gubernatorial exploratory committee. Mr. Zeigler said that if he can determine adequate financial backing exists for an intra-party challenge to the Governor, he will run, but chances are he will again find it difficult to mount enthusiasm among Republican donors and primary voters to unseat their current incumbent.
Maryland: Tom Perez, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who didn’t have much of a public role in President Biden’s election campaign and has not received any federal appointment, became the tenth Democrat to announce his candidacy for Governor of Maryland. The group is vying to replace Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is ineligible to seek a third term.
According to polling before Mr. Perez made his announcement, he was running third in the Democratic primary behind former Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker and state Comptroller Peter Franchot. The eventual Democratic nominee is favored to win the 2022 general election.
Massachusetts: State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Suffolk County), the daughter of America’s first Latino astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, announced that she will enter the Democratic gubernatorial primary next year. Already in the race are former state Sen. Ben Downing and Harvard University professor Danielle Allen. Two-term Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has yet to make his political plans known for the 2022 election cycle. If he chooses to run, the Governor will be favored to win re-election once more as a Republican in this most Democratic of states.
New Jersey: A New Jersey gubernatorial poll was released testing the new Governor’s race between incumbent Phil Murphy (D) and former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R). Their respective partisan electorates nominated both in the June 8th primary election.
According to the Fairleigh Dickinson University survey conducted soon after the primary (6/9-16; 803 NJ likely general election voters; live interview), Gov. Murphy enjoys a 48-33% ballot test advantage. The Governor’s job approval rating stands at 50%, which is an eight-point improvement from his score the last time FDU asked the favorability question in relation to the Garden State Governor, which occurred in their February 2020 study.
Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) is ineligible to seek a third term next year, but the Democratic side has been surprisingly quiet in terms of who might emerge to succeed her. The first official Democratic contender recently entered the gubernatorial race, and others are soon expected to follow. Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla became the first Democratic candidate to formally announce. Oregon is a solidly blue political state meaning that the eventual Democratic nominee will be deemed at least the early favorite to keep the Governor’s office under party control.
Texas: Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced that he will seek re-election next year and not challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in the Republican primary. In the race against Gov. Abbott, however, are former state Senator Don Huffines and potentially recently resigned Texas Republican Party chairman and ex-Florida Congressman Allen West.
Also, Lina Hidalgo (D), who won the Harris County Judge (Executive) position in a 2018 upset in the Lone Star State’s largest county (over 4.62 million people), is being talked about in Democratic circles as a possible challenger to Gov. Greg Abbott. Ms. Hidalgo is not ruling out a statewide run, but at only 30 years old it is more likely that she will seek re-election to her current position.
While Ms. Hidalgo may not become a gubernatorial candidate in 2022, her long-term forecast to become one is bright. Therefore, she likely represents the top option on the Texas Democrats’ future political bench.
Buffalo; Rochester: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D), running for a fifth four-year term, was defeated in last week’s Democratic primary, losing to self-described socialist India Walton. In Rochester, scandal-tainted incumbent Lovely Warren lost the Democratic nomination to at-large City Councilman Malik Evans by a landslide 2:1 margin.
New York City: Last Tuesday was election day in New York City, but the mayoral primary is a long way from being officially decided. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the favorite going into the Democratic primary, is the ten-point leader coming from the first partial count, but now must endure rounds of Ranked Choice Vote counting and absentee ballots still being received in order to determine the primary winner. Absentee ballots can still arrive all the way through June 29th. Under the New York counting system, it is likely a winner won’t be officially determined until approximately July 15th.
If Mr. Adams survives the ranked choice counts and reaches majority support, he will face Republican Curtis Sliwa in the general election. Mr. Sliwa, the founder of the 1970s organization, the Guardian Angels, easily won the Republican primary. The new GOP nominee will have little chance, however, in the general election.
S.1: The legislation to nationalize America’s voting system, known as the “For the People Act,” cannot advance to a Senate floor vote, at least in the short term. On a party-line 50-50 vote, with all Democrats voting to invoke cloture and all Republicans voting against, the bill was not allowed to proceed, effectively killing it for the present time. We could see variations of it come up again in future legislative days, but it will take a major change to obtain 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture in order to proceed to a final floor vote.
Monmouth Poll: Monmouth University conducted a national survey about the concepts driving the national voting procedures debate. The survey (6/9-14; 810 US adults; live interview) finds that, in general, large majorities support making voting easier and requiring voter identification. By a 50-39% margin, the sampling universe believes mail voting should be simpler. A 71-16% majority thinks in-person voting should be less complicated. A total of 80% believe that voter identification should be required, including 84% from the segment categorizing people of color.