House subcommittee reviews several bills targeting regulatory reform

The House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee met last week to discuss several bills aimed at improving the regulatory environment, including one that would change the asset threshold used to deem a bank as systemically important.

Introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act of 2017 replaces the $50 billion asset threshold used in Dodd-Frank to designate firms as “systemically important financial institutions” with an indicator-based measurement approach based on a particular institution’s size, interconnectedness, cross-jurisdictional activity, substitutability, and complexity.

They also examined the Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), which would amend the fair Debt Collection Practices Act to exclude law firms and licensed attorneys who are engaged in the practice of law from the definition of a debt collector.  This bill also amends the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to prevent the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection from exercising supervisory or enforcement authority with respect to attorneys when engaged in the practice of law and not providing consumer financial products or services.

In addition, the committee talked about the Fair Credit Reporting Act Liability Harmonization Act, which would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to establish certain limits – the lesser of $500,000 or one percent of the net worth of the defendant – on potential liability for statutory damages. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), also eliminates punitive damages that can be awarded under the FCRA.

Also, several bills that have yet to be introduced were discussed, including the Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act of 2017. This bill would amend the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to exempt from certain escrow or impound requirements a loan secured by a first lien on a consumer’s principal dwelling if the loan is held by a creditor with assets of $50 billion or less. The CFPB must also provide either exemptions to or adjustments from, the mortgage loan servicing and escrow account administration requirements of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 for services of 30,000 or fewer mortgage loans.

“The legislation discussed in the subcommittee today will better allow financial companies to serve their customers,” Luetkemeyer, the chairman of the subcommittee, said. “From banks and credit unions to attorneys, we’ve seen an impeded ability for businesses across the nation to offer financial services and guidance. In order to preserve consumer choice and financial independence, Congress must tackle regulatory reform and simplify rules. The policies outlined in today’s legislation start to break down those barriers.”