Advocacy Win: Senate Banking Committee Marks-up and Approves SAFER Banking Act
Posted by Ryan Fitzgerald on September 27, 2023
On Wednesday morning, the newly crafted SAFER Banking Act (S. 2860) was successfully passed out of the Senate Banking Committee markup with a 14-9 vote.
GoWest Senate Banking Committee members Senators Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Cynthia Lummis (WY) took the lead in negotiating the final marked-up bill language that was presented to the committee, along with a few additional members from both sides of the aisle. Our Advocacy Team worked closely with these offices and CUNA to present some modifications to the bill language to better position credit unions in the manager’s amendment that became the final legislation presented to the committee this morning.
Additionally, our collective GoWest / CUNA team worked to fight off an attempt to include a CRA-like requirement for all financial institutions into Section 10 of the bill. The Section 10 language is less focused on cannabis banking and more targeted toward the shutting down of financial accounts, based on reputational risk issues (versus safety and soundness issues). It is a section that was included to attempt to combat the concerns over the historic Operation Chokepoint issues of the past and gain Republican support for the legislation. Last week, our we expressed our opposition to a specific subsection and language that would have required new reporting requirements and defined standards for serving the underserved, which closely matched that of CRA, and was included in the originally outlined bill language. Our teams worked with Senator Lummis to alter the language that would be acceptable to both sides of the aisle, but not establish a new standard and reporting requirement for financial institutions. In the end, the whole subsection was removed before passage out of committee, as the Senators could not come to agreement on the language, and all of the financial services trade associations (CUNA, NAFCU, GoWest, ABA, ICBA, etc.) had publicly outlined their opposition to that section. You may have seen a few news reports that there were components of the new bill that was being opposed by the Financial Services Trade Association. Through our collective work, we were able to properly remedy or remove the sections of concern.
Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), who is not a member of the Senate Banking committee, will remain the sponsor of the legislation as it heads to the floor. He shared his vision for the bill, some of the history, and thanked the committee members for their work to get the bill finalized and passed out of the committee, in remarks he made to the committee, following the markup completion.
The GoWest team will be sharing our appreciation to our delegation members for all of their work in getting this legislation marked-up and headed to the floor. We will also be sharing our support to move the legislation forward on the floor of the Senate. If the bill is able to pass the Senate, it will be an unprecedented shift, as it has been the Senate that was unable to move previous legislation. If it proceeds, the challenge will lie in the road ahead to make it through the House, where opposition has already started to arise.
If you would like to watch the markup Executive Session, you can visit that link here. If you need additional information, please reach out to me.