Washington, D.C. (Sept. 1, 2017)—The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today sent a letter to Congress, advocating support for a strong and timely legislative response to Hurricane Harvey while offering a working list of suggested provisions that would empower community banks to help customers and communities rebuild following the natural disaster.
“As providers of basic credit and other financial services needed to revitalize local economies, community bankers inside and outside the disaster zone are contributing to the recovery effort as a humanitarian imperative and a matter of national economic importance,” said ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine. “Congress and public servants at all levels know the urgency of stabilizing and rebuilding this vital region. Swift and decisive action is needed to help flood victims and to restore the local economy.”
To assist in the recovery of affected regions, ICBA recommended that Congress:
- Raise bank-qualified bond issuance limit to $50 million (and index for inflation),
- Establish special bond issuance ($10 billion in tax-free “Harvey redevelopment bonds”),
- Authorize an additional $10 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA)-guaranteed disaster loan authority,
- Appropriate $150 million to the SBA 7(a) loan program to lower fees for Harvey-related lending,
- Increase existing SBA 7(a) lending authority level by $5 billion,
- Significantly increase funding for USDA guaranteed farm and rural development programs,
- Raise the Federal Reserve’s Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement limit from $1 billion to $10 billion for financial institutions that serve the disaster area,
- Allow 40 percent tax credit for up to $10,000 in wages paid by Harvey-zone employers,
- Allow 5-year net operating loss (NOL) carry back for financial institutions in disaster areas; and
- Waive taxes on interest earned from rural mortgage and agriculture real estate loans in the Harvey disaster area.
ICBA also sent a letter this week to Treasury, federal banking agencies and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which outlined several recommendations designed to ensure the continued flow of cash and payments throughout the hurricane-affected communities, and to promote short-term and long-term recovery.
The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 5,800 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.