McWilliams denies including merger review vote in FDIC minutes

FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams denied a request by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra to include in the agency’s official minutes a vote to request public feedback on its bank-merger framework.

Background: Chopra, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu, and FDIC Director Martin Gruenberg—the three other sitting members of the FDIC board—last week attempted to seek feedback on a review of the agency’s Bank Merger Act framework. However, the FDIC overruled the request, saying it has not been approved by the agency.

Supporters’ Efforts: In a joint statement last week, Chopra and Gruenberg said the review is critical given extensive banking consolidation over the past 30 years. Ahead of Tuesday’s FDIC board meeting, Hsu said he voted for the request and is concerned about the agency acting on it quickly.

McWilliams Opposition: McWilliams—the lone member of the board opposing the merger review—said at the meeting that the FDIC’s general counsel previously communicated to the board members that the notational vote cannot be added to the minutes because it is not valid.

Chopra Response: Responding to the denial in a statement following the board meeting, Chopra said the general counsel’s view was “unusual, and legally dubious.” A CFPB official reportedly told Politico the board members favoring the merger review are prepared to pursue other remedies, including a lawsuit.

Broader Issue: The disagreement raises questions of whether the majority of an agency board can bring votes on regulatory efforts without the support of the chair.