Financial Services

Banks seek Congress’ help to block fintech path to ‘industrial’ charters
Industry group expects efforts to have bipartisan support on Hill

A bank industry group accuses financial technology firms like payment processor Square Inc. of trying to exploit a banking law loophole. (Courtesy Shutterstock)

A bank industry group is lobbying Congress to block financial technology firms, such as online lender Social Finance Inc. and payment processor Square Inc., from obtaining an obscure form of a state bank charter that would let them operate nationally with little federal supervision.

The Independent Community Bankers of America last week distributed a policy paper around Washington calling for an immediate moratorium on providing federal deposit insurance to industrial loan companies, or ILCs, which are chartered by only a few states — most notably Utah.

Photos of the week: A budget, Marie Antoinette and St. Patrick’s Day
The week of March 11 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., holds a copy of the president's budget proposal during a news conference after the Senate policy luncheons on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration’s budget for fiscal year 2020 was released at the beginning of this week with little fanfare. And President Donald Trump attended the annual St. Patrick's Day reception on the Hill on Thursday. Lawmakers then headed out of town for their March recess next week.

Here's the entire week in Washington in photos:

Spectrum auction could boot weather forecasting back to the 1970s, lawmakers warn
Appropriators call for delay of auction set for Thursday

The Federal Communications Commission, led by Ajit Pai, plans to go ahead with a spectrum auction aimed at securing American leadership in 5G. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior House members, citing a potential threat to the safety of millions of people, urgently asked a federal agency Wednesday to delay an auction of radio frequency spectrum that is slated to occur Thursday.

If that spectrum is used for 5G wireless communications, as planned, it could interfere with government satellites’ ability to collect data in a nearby band — information on which accurate weather forecasts hinge, three House Appropriations subcommittee chairmen said in a letter obtained by Roll Call.

FBI HQ investigation ‘closer to the beginning than the end’
GSA delivers 2,500 documents near midnight Tuesday in partial response to House Committee request

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., prepares to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An investigation into whether President Donald Trump was involved in the decision to keep the FBI on prime Pennsylvania Avenue property is still far from over, lawmakers said Wednesday.

“We’re closer to the beginning than the end of the investigation,” said House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee Chairman Mike Quigley following a Wednesday hearing.

Ex-Sen. Joe Donnelly Goes to K Street’s Akin Gump

Former Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is heading to Akin Gump. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Indiana Democrat who lost his re-election bid in November, is the latest ex-lawmaker to land on K Street.

He will join the lobbying and law firm Akin Gump as a partner on April 1, and no that’s not an April Fool’s joke, the firm’s spokesman confirmed.

Fintech industry pursues clarity on ‘token’ regulation
Advocates are finding a sympathetic ear in Congress

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, is planning to reintroduce with Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., legislation that would further define the term “digital token.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Financial technology advocates are seeking an answer from regulators on when things like digital tokens should be deemed to be securities, and they’re gaining a sympathetic ear in Congress.

Further clarity from regulators would encourage more U.S. growth in digital assets, the advocates say.

The week on Capitol Hill in 10 Photos
The week of March 4-8 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

A beam of sunlight illuminates the Portrait Monument, depicting suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott, as tourists crowd the Capitol Rotunda on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week is coming to a close on the Hill after the passage of HR1, a voting and ethics package, in the House. Don’t miss this preview of the legislative priorities that are next on House Democrats’ agendas, by reporter Lindsey McPherson. 

Also this week, Michael Cohen was once again on the Capitol campus, and the marijuana legalization push continued.

Justices break the ice, err glass, at budget hearing
Alito and Kagan make their debut before House Appropriations subcommittee

Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan testify about the Supreme Court’s fiscal 2020 budget at a hearing Thursday before the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At the start of a House hearing Thursday on the Supreme Court’s budget, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. knocked over a full water glass, which shattered on the witness table with a sound that would make any foley artist proud.

“Not off to a very good start,” Alito said with a smile, holding the bottom of the broken glass. “We’re deducting that,” a member of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee quipped from the Democratic side of the dais.

Regulators warn Congress not to pre-empt state fintech rules
“Investor protections must not be diminished at the state or federal levels”

The North American Securities Administrators Association is calling on lawmakers to be cautious when implementing fintech laws. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

State securities regulators are concerned Congress could pre-empt state laws governing financial technology such as blockchain and cryptocurrency that are designed to protect consumers.

The North American Securities Administrators Association on Wednesday issued its legislative priorities for the 116th Congress, calling on lawmakers to be cautious when implementing fintech laws.

Democrats hammer CFPB head for being soft on lenders
Democrats grilled Director Kathy Kraninger and GOP lawmakers for supporting recent agency changes

Kathy Kraninger, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is seen before testifying at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in the Rayburn Building on March 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats sharply criticized on Thursday the head of America’s consumer finance watchdog for decisions Republicans say are entirely under her purview.

In the first Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversight hearing, Financial Services Democrats repeatedly hammered Director Kathy Kraninger and GOP lawmakers for supporting recent changes at the agency.