We live in a capitalist nation, and this economic model has led the United States to be the economic powerhouse of the world. The financial sector of our economy—banks, insurance companies, realty companies, etc.—are vital to our way of life. This sector allows for citizens to store their earnings safely; borrow money for homes, cars, and businesses; and ensure that life and property are financially-backed in case of emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances.
But just as it does in all other sectors of the economy, an overzealous government produces overly-burdensome regulations on the financial sector. It is one thing to regulate this sector to prevent predatory lending and unreasonable interest rates, but seeking to promulgate regulatory rules without transparency of process and publishing new regulations which are unclear is not only an affront to the industry, it is a recipe for disaster.
As it often does, the Congress reacted swiftly in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. The product was the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010—perhaps the most sweeping financial regulatory legislation in our history. Not every provision in Dodd-Frank is outrageous, and Congress did need to do something to ensure that financial regulatory agencies weren’t caught “asleep at the wheel” again. But this bill has created more problems that it has solved. It produced vague guidelines for regulation and left it to the regulatory agencies to fill in the gaps. What is worse, the regulatory agencies did not have enough guidance to craft clear rules. In many cases, the new regulations produced regulations that were entirely unclear, causing markets to act in an overly cautious manner because they did not know what was allowed and what was not.
Dodd-Frank also led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a “super agency” of unelected bureaucrats, which somehow largely escapes congressional oversight and thus far has conducted the majority of its rulemaking actions behind closed doors, much to the dismay of the American people and those it seeks to regulate.
We see now that the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction, leading to restricted access to credit for individuals and businesses alike. And what is perhaps the most troubling aspect of Dodd-Frank was that it did not outlaw future bailouts of the giant banks—it actually institutionalized the bailout model. All these factors caused the economic recovery to be anemic rather than robust.
For my part, I have supported numerous targeted fixes to Dodd-Frank to ensure that credit is available, overly-vague and burdensome regulations are repealed, and more sensible regulations are clear. I have also voted to rein in the nearly unaccountable CFPB to ensure Congress is able to perform its essential oversight role. I will continue to fight to ensure that the U.S. financial sector is able to prosper and create jobs for the American people.
Holding the IRS Accountable
In July of 2014, the House of Representatives sent a strong message to the IRS and the Administration, "Shape up or lose your funding." The House passed an appropriations bill which cut funding to the IRS by over $1 billion and to its lowest level since 2003. Included with passage of this bill were four of my amendments which cut more than $400 million in wasteful spending from the IRS and other government agencies. At a time when our nation is more than $18 trillion dollars in debt and with a federal budget on track to spend $500 billion more than it will take in, we must make real cuts to reign in federal spending. The House unanimously adopted one my amendments that cut funds for the IRS by $353 million as part of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of fiscal year 2015. Another one of my successful amendments prohibited bonuses for senior executive service employees at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for fiscal year 2015. CLICK HERE to read more.
When the IRS proposed a new regulation that would have required non-profits to share the Social Security numbers of their donors with the agency, my colleagues and I fought back. It defies commonsense that anyone would give this information to the IRS given that the agency unfairly targeted conservative groups for their political beliefs. As a result of Congressional pressure, the IRS announced in January 2015 that they were withdrawing this misguided proposal that would have violated the First Amendment.
Protecting Local Zoning and Property Rights
President Obama’s new AFFH regulation marks his most aggressive attempt yet to force his utopian ideology on American communities disguised under the banner of ‘fairness’. This new regulation isn’t about fair housing, as housing discrimination based on race has been illegal for more than 40 years. American citizens should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to big government neighborhood engineering. Local zoning decisions have traditionally been, and should always be, made by local communities, not bureaucrats in Washington DC. The House of Representatives has voted twice to defund the AFFH rule by passing my amendments during consideration of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bills for fiscal years 2015 and 2016. More information on those votes can be found HERE and HERE. I have also introduced the Local Zoning and Property Rights Protection Act, H.R. 1995, to prohibit this new regulation.
The PURSE Act
In November 2015, I introduced the Preventing Unionization of Revenue Service Employees (PURSE Act). This commonsense legislation would prohibit federal government tax collectors and other bureaucrats from unionizing and entering into collective bargaining agreements at taxpayer expense. In 2013, over 200 IRS employees spent more than 520,000 hours of official time on union activities. Hard-working American taxpayers had to foot the bill for these employees' salaries and benefits to the tune of $23 million. To make matters worse, the IRS has over 70,000 union-covered employees, and more than 95% of the union's political contributions have gone to Democrat candidates in recent elections. It is far past time that we stop IRS employees from engaging in political activity on official time. CLICK HERE to read more.
Death Tax Termination Act
I am an ardent supporter and cosponsor of H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act, which serves as a repeal of the estate tax. I have voted multiple times to repeal this unjust tax. Mothers and fathers are taxed on their earnings and holdings while they are alive, and they should not have to worry about those holdings being taxed, yet again, when they die and aim to leave their children their belongings. This bipartisan legislation passed the House on April 16, 2015, by a vote 240-179. It is my hope that this legislation will be taken up by the Senate in a timely manner and signed into law by the president.
The Small Bank Exam Cycle Reform Act
I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1553, the Small Bank Exam Cycle Reform Act. This bill would reduce the regulatory burden for well-managed community banks and allow an additional 676 U.S. banks to qualify for longer exam cycles. This bipartisan legislation passed the House with my support in October 2015.
The Department of Labor (DOL) Proposed Fiduciary Rule
I strongly oppose DOL's proposed Fiduciary Rule. I joined several of my colleagues in twice contacting DOL Secretary Perez and expressing significant concerns about the proposed rule which seeks to update the definition of a fiduciary standard under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). One of our efforts stated, "We have serious reservations that the details of the current proposal will severely disrupt the availability of affordable financial education and investment advice while also restricting product choice and retirement security for many American Families...We hope you will make substantial changes to address the shortcomings of the proposed rule to reflect these concerns so that any final rule enhances retirement security.” I also voted in favor of H.R. 1090, the Retail Investor Protection Act, which requires the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) to examine the proposed rule and to update its own rules regarding fiduciaries before the DOL rule can be implemented. The SEC is the agency that Congress has designated with the authority to regulate the investment industry, not DOL.
The Department of Labor (DOL) Proposed Overtime Rule
I also strongly oppose DOL's proposed Overtime Rule. Currently, employers are required to pay overtime for all employees who make $23,660 or less per year. The new rule, proposed by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, would raise the salary threshold and require employers to pay overtime for all employees who make $50,440 or less per year. With the implementation of the rule, nearly 5 million employees would suddenly become eligible for overtime pay. This 113 percent increase in the salary threshold would place a large burden on business owners and their workers, and is a major departure from previous DOL policy. Several colleagues and I are in the midst of contacting Secretary Perez to also express significant concerns with this proposed rule. In our comments we state, "As written, this one-size-fits-all rule would adversely impact all affected employers, especially small businesses. Instead of helping our nation’s workers, this rule will ultimately hurt them...Many small businesses, which often operate on thin margins, yet still pay competitive salaries, provide great benefits, and positive workplace environments, simply cannot afford to increase their workers’ salaries to the new salary threshold that has been proposed. Thus, to remain economically viable and keep the prices of their goods and services competitive, many businesses would be forced to take actions such as reducing workers hours or shifting salaried workers to hourly status, which many workers would consider a demotion and may also mean a reduction in benefits."
The Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act
I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1941, the Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act. This legislation creates an Independent Examination Review Director to ensure there is a fair appeals process in place for bank examinations. The bill will also ensure a more transparent examination process and timelier reporting. Such actions will provide more consistency in this process and allow more good loans to go to consumers as examiners will no longer be allowed to arbitrarily insist on unnecessary reserve requirements.
Ending Operation Choke Point
I cosponsored H.R. 1413, the Firearms Manufacturers and Dealers Protection Act and H.R. 766, the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act. Each measure makes conducting or facilitating Operation Choke Point illegal. Operation Choke Point was an unconstitutional program created by the Obama Administration that put pressure on banks and payment processors to shut down industries that President Obama and Attorney General didn’t like. In February of 2016, the full House of Representatives passed H.R. 766 and my amendment. My commonsense amendment improved this worthwhile legislation and increased transparency by requiring that financial institutions provide notice to customers if their account is ordered to be terminated by federal banking regulators. Click HERE to read more
Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act
I cosponsored H.R. 1210, the Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act. This legislation increases access for consumers to a greater variety of loan products by allowing financial institutions to originate loans and hold them in their portfolio for the entire life of the loan. The American Bankers Association supports this bill stating, "[H.R. 2673] is a common sense approach that will allow portfolio lenders to make more credit available, safely and soundly, to borrowers who they view as good credit risks."
Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk Act
I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2896, the Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk Act. This bill will reduce regulatory burdens and their associated costs for small financial institutions, particularly community banks. To that end, this legislation directs Federal bank and credit union regulators to consider the risk profile and business model of an institution prior to implementing new regulations. The 53 State Bankers Associations have stated, "In its simplest terms, H.R. 2896 directs regulators to apply rules where needed while cutting back where it is not."
Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act
In December 2015, I voted for the bipartisan PATH Act. This legislation prevented tax increases for millions of businesses and hard-working American families. The Path Act made permanent several important tax provisions including: the R&D tax credit, section 179 small business expensing, the state and local sales deduction and 15-year recovery for restaurant and leasehold improvements. A study by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Research Foundation found that permanent Section 179 small business expensing will "increase economic output by almost $19 billion and create nearly 200,000 jobs over the next 10 years."
Reforms to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
As previously stated, the CFPB’s actions are largely unaccountable. I have supported numerous initiatives to bring them into the fold. One example is the Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act, which would require CFPB to establish an independent intra-agency appellate process in connection with the regulatory appeals process and would create appropriate safeguards to protect financial institutions from retaliation by the CFPB if an appeal is made. I have also supported legislation to offer a means for consumers to join an “opt-out” list so that the agency cannot collect personally identifiable information about them. Finally, I have vocally supported a full repeal of the CFPB as long as it exists in its current form. No government agency should be above reproach or remain exempt from vigorous oversight from duly elected members of Congress.