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ICBA Says CFPA Bill Contains Improvements, Still More Changes Needed

Washington, D.C. (October 22, 2009)—R. Michael Menzies, chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and president and CEO of Easton Bank and Trust Co., Easton, Md., today issued this statement following House Financial Services Committee passage of H.R. 3126, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act (CFPA).

“Our nation’s more than 8,000 Main Street community banks are relationship lenders that remain committed to serving their customers in a fair and honest manner in cities and towns throughout America. ICBA and community banks agree that consumer protection is a cornerstone of our financial system and that any additional regulations should be focused on the unregulated financial entities and the too-big-to-fail institutions that caused this financial crisis. We appreciate House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D- Mass.) listening to the concerns of pro-consumer community banks as they relate to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). While ICBA has several serious concerns that still need to be addressed, the bill passed today contains important improvements over the original proposal.

“Specifically, ICBA applauds the ICBA-backed Examination and Enforcement amendment that was included in the bill and thanks Reps. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) and Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) for introducing the amendment, which will provide relief from direct CFPA examination for all community banks with assets under $10 billion. In particular, the amendment keeps examinations, both compliance and safety and soundness, for banks with assets less than $10 billion with the banking agencies and bars the CFPA from assessing any fees against these banks for purposes of funding the agency. Finally, the bank regulator, instead of the CFPA, will have primary authority to enforce violations of consumer laws for community banks.

“ICBA is also pleased that the CFPA bill eliminates the mandated ‘plain vanilla’ product requirement and the vague ‘reasonableness’ standard. ICBA also appreciates that Chairman Frank has called for an assessment on nonbanks rather than placing additional unnecessary burdens on common-sense community banks that did not engage in the deceptive practices targeted by the proposal. With that in mind, ICBA encourages lawmakers to tighten the scope of CFPA’s authority and provide joint rulemaking with prudential regulators.

“ICBA will continue to work with the House and Senate to make additional improvements to the bill as it moves forward so that parity amongst all lenders is brought to the marketplace and so America’s community banks, which have always been the best protection for consumers, can continue to serve them on Main Streets nationwide.”