House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and the panel’s task force and subcommittee chairs are is pushing Treasury, financial regulators, financial trades and consumer reporting agencies for action and information on the steps they’re taking to help their constituencies manage the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Waters also said she planned a hearing this month on financial system readiness for a pandemic, but she reversed that late Thursday, announcing the cancellation of all remaining hearings for March. (See the Thursday announcement.)
The lawmakers, in Wednesday’s letters, generally sought responses by March 20 to the question of what steps are being taken to prevent harm to Americans and the financial system by COVID-19. They also criticized the efforts of some to argue for more deregulation amid this crisis.
Writing to Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, lawmakers urged moving up the date of the next meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), currently slated for March 23, so that federal financial regulatory umbrella group can discuss how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. They panned the efforts of some who have sought to “shamefully … take advantage of this predicament” by pressing for deregulation that goes beyond what Trump-appointed regulators have already completed. “Deregulation is not the solution to the coronavirus, and we strongly urge you and FSOC members to reject these calls and focus on the crisis at hand,” they wrote.
“While our federal regulators, agencies and financial institutions must take action to protect consumers and our economy, I must emphasize that it is unacceptable to use this crisis as an excuse to justify rollbacks of important financial regulations that are in place to protect our financial system and economy,” Waters said in a statement announcing the letters.
In another letter, the lawmakers sought information from federal financial regulatory agencies – the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – about how they’re implementing recent guidance on dealing with COVID-19. Additionally, they wrote financial industry trades and reporting agencies asking how they and their members are working to help institutions, consumers, and their own staffs manage the health concerns and financial fallout from the crisis.
Additionally, lawmakers pressed the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the FBI to “protect investors and be vigilant against fraudulent investment schemes” related to COVID-19.