On January 16, 2019, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, outlined her priorities during her first policy speech in the 116th Congress. In her remarks, she indicated the Financial Services Committee will focus its attention on, among other things, the impact of financial innovation and the financial regulators’ responses. The Chairwoman urged regulators to focus on the ever-evolving financial marketplace and singled out the growth of Fintechs. She recognized the potential financial inclusion benefits of new technologies, especially for the unbanked and underbanked, and emphasized the need to encourage responsible innovation, promote strong consumer safeguards, and ensure a level and competitive playing field that includes community banks and credit unions. Chairwoman Waters, however, expressed concern about the potential harmful impacts financial technology may pose to consumers at risk of being preyed upon or discriminated against.
The Chairwoman also emphasized that an ongoing priority of the Financial Services Committee will be to ensure robust financial regulation that protects consumers, investors, and the U.S. economy. As part of that agenda, Chairwoman Waters specifically outlined her priority to reverse many of the recent changes at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), including proposed legislation that would restore supervisory and enforcement authority to the CFPB’s fair lending office, re-open the CFPB’s student loan office, and require the CFPB to maintain its public consumer complaint database. Such legislation’s prospects in the Senate, however, are uncertain. As highlighted in Chairwoman Waters’ remarks, the Financial Services Committee intends to examine certain of the administration’s policy and enforcement determinations, and we expect the Committee may also examine market participants in other areas highlighted in her remarks, such as fair housing, payday lending, and financial regulatory reform.