Proposed CRA reforms draw criticism from all sides
The federal banking regulators issued a in May, with comments due on August 5. Testimony before the suggested that the proposal pleases no one. Committee members generally agreed that current rules are not achieving the goals of the 1977 law, but seemed almost universally skeptical—although for different reasons—about whether the proposed changes would do more to encourage lending and investment in underserved communities. Democrats want the rule to focus more on racial disparities in lending decisions, which would require additional data collection the statute doesn’t require. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), the subcommittee’s ranking member, said the proposed rule would still call for an overwhelming increase in data collection, which will make it even harder for banks to lend. Members and witnesses generally agreed that the proposed rule’s non-comprehensive list of activities that would qualify for CRA credit was a step in the right direction.
Senate panel discusses “ambitious,” “bold” National Travel and Tourism Strategy
Last month the Department of Commerce published its 2022 , developed by the in consultation with the (TTAB). The strategy’s goal is to welcome 90 million international visitors, spending $279 billion a year, by 2027. The strategy calls for streamlining and better coordination of promotions for US tourism; making it easier for foreign visitors to enter the United States; delivering a diversity of inclusive and accessible tourism experiences; and fostering resilience and sustainability in tourism. Enthusiasm for the strategy was evident at last Tuesdays hearing before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion, where Chair Jacki Rosen (D-NV) and Vice Chair Rick Scott (R-FL) asked Assistant Secretary of Commerce Grant Harris and the Chair and Vice Chair of the TTAB whether the strategy’s goals were realistically achievable. Witnesses told the panel that the reauthorization of is empowering these efforts, but agreed that enactment of the bipartisan , approved by the Commerce Committee last December, would further prioritize support for the sector.
House subcommittee discusses Truth in Lending-style requirements for fintech business loans
Fintech lenders are making it easier for the nation’s smallest businesses to get access to short-term capital, but too many borrowers don’t understand the terms and conditions of these loans, witnesses told Fintechs are filling a microlending gap, and were often able to deliver Paycheck Protection Program funds more quickly than their bank competitors, but a small percentage of these companies are making loans that lock unwary entrepreneurs into debt spirals. Members and witnesses agreed for the need for greater transparency in fintech loan underwriting, especially algorithms that use non-traditional borrower data. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, chair of the Small Business Committee and a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, has introduced legislation to impose Truth-in-Lending style reporting requirements for small business loans. Republican Committee members unanimously oppose that idea, with some calling for a complete repeal of the reporting requirements already imposed by Dodd-Frank.
“Small Starts” infrastructure projects surge under IIJA
Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez to talk about how the FTA is pushing out new funding for public transit under the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, and more funding than ever is going to Small Starts projects, which have total costs of less than $300 million and need federal funding of less than $100 million. Fernandez said that changes in the application criteria have produced a 150% increase in the pipeline for these projects; more than half of all current Capital Investment Grant (CIG) projects are Small Starts. The FTA has $108 billion in funding to distribute over the next eight years. It announced in April, and is currently reviewing proposals for their , the , and the . Notices of Funding Opportunity will go out later this year for the and the .
White House showcases ARP-funded state and local workplace development projects
Vice President Kamala Harris led off a that brought state and local officials and nonprofit executives together to talk about how they’re using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to create and expand workplace development programs. More than $40 billion in federal grants are funding these efforts, and discussions showcased best practices. Earlier this summer, the Administration launched a to encourage businesses, schools, state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations to make tangible commitments to support workforce development in three areas: broadband, construction, and “electrification” (EV charging infrastructure and battery manufacturing). Highlighted programs included support for direct-care job training; pre-apprenticeships for truck drivers, transit workers and construction workers; and training partnerships with community colleges and high schools.
SEC reverses proxy rule changes, proposes changes to shareholder proposal rule
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to from information and filing requirements. SEC Chair Gary Gensler said the changes would help ensure the timeliness and independence of proxy voting advice. The agency also proposed rule changes that would revise conditions under which companies can exclude shareholder proposals from their proxy statements. Gensler said the proposed changes would clarify the rule’s application, and help shareholders submit proposals for consideration. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be open for comment for 30 days.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Michael S. Barr to be a member and Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve Board. Barr’s confirmation brings the Board to its full complement of seven members.
The Week Ahead in Washington
The Ellis Insight
Jim Ellis on Political News
Georgia: Just when the polling data began to trend Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D) way, a new Democratic poll finds Republican Herschel Walker rebounding to take back the advantage. The progressive left firm Data for Progress went into the Georgia field (7/1-6; 1,131 GA likely general election voters; text & online) and posts Mr. Walker to a 49-47% slight advantage. This wholly contrasts with Quinnipiac University’s late June survey that yielded a 54-44% lead for the incumbent. Two other June polls, from Moore Information (R) and East Carolina University and conducted prior to the Q-Poll, both project the two candidates tied.
Missouri: The Tarrance Group just released a statewide Missouri Senate poll that shows former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) is finally absorbing some political damage from his opponents attacks, his own controversial ads about hunting “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only), and domestic and child abuse claims from his ex-wife. A new ad featuring Ms. Greitens should prove devastating to her ex-husband’s US Senate chances.
To counter, a Super PAC called Missouri First Action PAC, which the Daily Kos Elections site reports that Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus principally funds, is spending $820,000 on a closing media buy to defend Mr. Greitens against the recent attacks that have displaced him from the polling lead. The Tarrance survey (7/5-7; 600 MO likely Republican primary voters) now forecasts Attorney General Eric Schmitt with the primary lead at 28%. US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) close behind at 24%. Mr. Greitens drops back to just 16% support with an upside down favorability index within the Republican sampling universe at 39:49%.
Ohio: A late June Impact Research firm (formerly ALG Research) poll for Rep. Tim Ryan’s US Senate campaign (6/27-30; 816 OH likely voters) posts the Democratic Congressman to a slight 48-46% edge over Republican author J.D. Vance. The result is typical of what we see in Ohio polls. The two major party candidates often poll close until the campaign’s ending two weeks when one of the contenders, usually the Republican in races since 2010, pulls away. It would not be surprising to see a similar pattern develop in this contest.
IL-6: Former Congressman Dan Lipinski (D), who was looking to potentially enter the 6th District general election as a “Centrist Independent,” is unable to do so. Because Mr. Lipinski voted in the June 28 Democratic primary, he is ineligible to run as an Independent in the associated general election. The former Congressman indicated that he would instead turn his attention toward helping form a centrist organization to promote independent candidates.
The development certainly helps Democratic Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) who just defeated Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange) in the district’s intra-party paired incumbents’ contest. Having Lipinski on the ballot could have resulted in enough Democratic votes straying to Lipinski, the former area incumbent who Newman defeated in the 2020 Democratic primary, to throw the general election to Republican Keith Pekau in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates only a D+6.
MO-1: The Remington Research Group, surveying for the Missouri Scout political blog (7/6-7; 460 MO-1 likely Democratic primary voters; interactive response system), released their new data results that post freshman Missouri Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) to a tepid 40-20% lead over state Sen. Steve Roberts (D-St. Louis) with a whopping 32% undecided just weeks before the August 2 primary election. In 2020, Ms. Bush, commonly referred to as a “Squad Member” in the House, defeated veteran Rep. Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary. This is a primary contest to watch in the election’s closing days.
NE-2: According to a new GBAO internal survey for the Tony Vargas for Congress campaign (6/27-30; 500 NE-2 likely general election voters), the Democratic state Senator holds a 48-47% edge over US Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha). While the internal poll is good news for Sen. Vargas, his standing has actually weakened since Change Research released a pre-primary poll in May that posted him to a 42-39% lead over the three-term incumbent. The NE-2 battle will be a race to watch in the Autumn as Rep. Bacon may be one of the few Republican House incumbents forced into a strongly competitive race.
New Hampshire: Both New Hampshire Democratic incumbents Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) and Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) will face competitive general election opponents after the September 13 primary. Each has a politically marginal district in a state where the Right Track/Wrong Track polling responses appear to put the Democrats in serious political jeopardy.
In advance of the reporting deadline, both House members have pre-released substantial fundraising and cash-on-hand totals. Rep. Kuster reports $611,000 raised for the 2nd quarter and holds $2.6 million in her campaign account. Rep. Pappas, who likely faces the more difficult re-election challenge, will post $670,000 raised after April 1, and $2.2 million in his campaign account. The Republican candidates have not yet announced their fundraising totals.
Arizona: As the Arizona Republican gubernatorial primary continues to evolve into a two-way race, the margin between the pair of candidates is growing slimmer. A new High Ground Public Affairs survey (7/2-7; 400 AZ likely Republican primary voters; live interview) sees former news anchor Kari Lake leading Arizona University Regent Karrin Taylor Robson by just a 39-35% margin.
Former President Trump, who supports Lake, has now scheduled an Arizona rally to build support for his candidate just prior to the August 2 state primary. Term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced his endorsement of Ms. Robson, which further began the latter candidate’s late momentum charge. The eventual GOP nominee will likely face Secretary of State Katie Hobbs who is well ahead in polling on the Democratic side.
Georgia: The aforementioned Data for Progress poll (see Georgia Senate above) also surveyed the Georgia Governor’s race. The ballot test projects Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to a surprisingly large 53-44% advantage over former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D). The comparative late June Quinnipiac poll found the two candidates tied at 48% apiece.
The Daily Kos Elections site is reporting that Ms. Abrams’ campaign has raised a huge $9.8 million in the past two months and an allied political action committee pulled in an additional $12.3 million. The combined cash-on-hand figure of $18.5 million for the Abrams’ team is almost $8 million more than Gov. Kemp and his allies have readily available.
Michigan: After the petition signature debacle that caused Republicans to see their early gubernatorial campaign leader, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, disqualified, a new Mitchell Research poll finds the GOP electorate coalescing around a new candidate. After flirting with businessman Kevin Rinke right after Craig’s exit, online radio host Tudor Dixon, who many believe would be the strongest contender from this GOP field, has taken the primary lead as we approach the August 2 election day.
The Mitchell poll (7/7-8; 683 MI likely Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system & text) finds Ms. Dixon posting 26% support, followed by real estate broker and Trump activist Ryan Kelley (15%), with Mr. Rinke and chiropractor Garrett Soldano close behind (13%). The eventual Republican nominee then challenges Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in the general election.
The Glengariff Group, a frequent Michigan political pollster, released their latest general election survey that pairs Gov. Whitmer with the leading GOP primary contenders. The poll, conducted for Detroit television station WDIV and the Detroit News (7/5-8; 600 MI likely general election voters; live interview) finds Ms. Whitmer comfortably ahead of the top three Republican candidates, but with margins indicating the November election could become competitive.
Against GOP polling leader Tudor Dixon, an online radio show host, Gov. Whitmer is staked to a 51-40% lead. Her advantage is similar against businessman Kevin Rinke and real estate broker Ryan Kelley, 52-40% over the former, and 50-41% against the latter. With Whitmer in the low 50s in all scenarios, we can expect this race to close after the August 2 primary when the GOP will choose a nominee.
New Hampshire: State Sen. Tom Sherman (D-Seacoast Region), who is unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, released his campaign’s internal Public Policy Polling survey (7/1-6; 601 NH registered voters) that finds the physician/legislator trailing three-term Gov. Chris Sununu (R) by a 43-33% margin, the closest result we have seen to date. Abortion push questions were used in the survey and Manchester Union Leader newspaper reports this total is the result after such questions were asked.
The latest non-partisan survey was released in April from the University of New Hampshire. Their findings projected the Governor to a 55-29% advantage over Dr. Sherman. While it is likely Sherman has cut that particular margin, the ten-point deficit found in the new PPP survey is likely unrealistic.
Oregon: Two internal Oregon gubernatorial campaign polls have been released in the past few days, and the emerging story line suggests that the client polls are favoring their own candidate’s positioning as the individual most likely to upend former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D). The missed point, however, is that Ms. Kotek, as the Democratic nominee in this bluest of states, does not even break 33% support in any of the surveys.
Republican nominee Christine Drazan, the former state House Minority Leader, released her Cygnal survey (6/28-30; 600 OR likely general election voters; online & text) that posts her to a one-point, 32-31% lead over Ms. Kotek, with ex-state Senator Betsy Johnson (I) trailing at 24% support. The result counters an earlier Johnson campaign poll (GS Strategy Group; 6/23-29; 600 OR likely general election voters; live interview) that found Kotek leading Johnson and Drazan, 33-30-23%.
Analyses are pointing out the difference in standing between Ms. Drazan and Johnson, but both surveys agree that Ms. Kotek is woefully under-performing. While Ms. Johnson is now running as an Independent, she previously served in the legislature as a Democrat.
Texas: The typical Texas polling pattern usually projects relatively close general election pairings, and the Republican candidate generally winning by a greater percentage than the data predicts. It’s likely we’re seeing the same progression emerge in the 2022 Governor’s race.
The latest YouGov/University of Houston poll (6/27-7/7; 1,169 TX registered voters; 1,006 TX likely general election voters; online) finds Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, seeking a third term, topping former US Rep. and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) by a 47-42% margin. Since the Texas March 1 primary, nine gubernatorial polls have been released, with Abbott leading in each. His range roams from 42 to 56%, with O’Rourke placing between 37-44%.