WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee will examine proposals to “fix the flawed” housing finance system in the new Congress, according to a summary of Chairman Mike Crapo’s legislative priorities unveiled Tuesday.
The committee will also explore capital-formation proposals for new businesses, data security, “targeted reforms” of the credit bureaus and steps to “ensure the regulatory landscape welcomes” fintech innovation, among other things.
The new Congress marks the second term for Crapo, an Idaho Republican, running the committee. According to the summary, the panel will continue to identify “bipartisan legislative solutions” to “promote economic growth” after successfully advancing a regulatory relief bill to President Trump’s desk in the previous Congress.
The summary listed housing finance reform first, but a legislative deal to overhaul the system now dominated by the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has eluded Congress for many years, and a breakthrough is not expected anytime soon.
The committee’s press release referred to housing finance reform as “the last piece of unaddressed business from the financial crisis.” The panel advanced a legislative GSE reform proposal in 2014 that failed to get a full floor vote in the Senate. Since then, lawmakers have proposed other frameworks, but more recently attention has focused on what the Trump administration can do without legislation. In widely reported comments, acting Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Joseph Otting said the White House and Treasury Department will soon set a direction for the country’s housing finance system.
The committee said it will discuss how to “establish appropriate levels of taxpayer protection, preserve the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, increase competition among mortgage guarantors and promote access to affordable housing.”
Also on the agenda is capital formation. The press release noted that the House passed a third iteration of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act 3.0, in a 406-4 vote last Congress. Crapo did not endorse that legislation — which is mainly focused on capital markets but includes some banking provisions — but the summary said the committee will work quickly to identify what bipartisan bills should be considered to encourage capital formation, reduce burdens for small businesses and improve corporate governance.
After several data breaches, including the 2017 Equifax breach that compromised the personal information of roughly 148 million Americans, Crapo’s memo said, consumers need more control over what information is collected and how it is used.
“We need legislative solutions to give consumers more control over and enhanced protection of consumer financial data, and to ensure consumers are notified of breaches in a timely and consistent manner,” the summary said.
The committee will also continue to oversee implementation the new regulatory relief law, known as S 2155, and consider steps to improve or reauthorize expiring programs, including the National Flood Insurance Program, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and the Export-Import Bank.
The summary noted that the National Flood Insurance Program was extended 10 times last Congress, and the latest short-term reauthorization will expire on May 31.
“Any comprehensive reforms to the NFIP must achieve the appropriate balance of protecting taxpayers and assisting consumers,” the summary said.