Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, delivered the following statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “Oversight of Prudential Regulators: Ensuring the Safety, Soundness, Diversity, and Accountability of Depository Institutions.”
Good morning, everyone. I would like to welcome Vice Chair Barr, Acting Chairman Gruenberg, Chairman Harper, and Acting Comptroller Hsu, who are here to testify on their agencies’ regulation and supervision of our nation’s financial institutions. I want to take a moment to congratulate Acting Chairman Gruenberg on his nomination to serve as Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Throughout his years of dedicated public service, Chairman Gruenberg has promoted consumer protection, financial stability, and financial inclusion in the banking sector, and I look forward to the Senate promptly confirming him to this key post.
With that said, today’s hearing is timely. Persistent inflation, an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’s war in Ukraine are all weighing heavily on our nation’s economy and on the financial stability of America’s workers, small businesses, and communities. Meanwhile, our financial system is rapidly evolving, as banks and credit unions utilize new technologies to serve customers while we also witness the real danger to customers when entities, like cryptocurrency exchange FTX, operate in the shadows outside of robust federal oversight and clear rules of the road.
This hearing continues this Committee’s oversight efforts to ensure that America’s banking system is working for all people. I am pleased that during the Biden presidency, the agencies testifying before us have rejected a harmful Trump-era rule to undermine the Community Reinvestment Act, and jointly launched a new rulemaking to combat modern-day redlining. In addition, they are taking steps to address climate-related financial risks, and considering ways to strengthen bank merger reviews that for far too long have been rubber-stamped. Mergers, in particular, deserve strong scrutiny from regulators, and I urge our panelists to give consumers, workers, and communities affected by mergers a real chance to share their concerns at public hearings. Moreover, any mergers that fail to serve the convenience and needs of affected communities or undermine financial stability should be thoroughly rejected.
I look forward to hearing how our prudential regulators are working to promote diversity and inclusion in the banking system, including by supporting MDIs and CDFIs, which we know play a significant role in driving opportunities and resources to Black communities that are often left behind by our nation’s modern banking system.
And importantly, I appreciate steps taken by our regulators to ensure banks are cautious and mindful of the risks posed by digital assets. I want to learn what else they are doing to monitor the impacts of emerging financial technologies and artificial intelligence in order to promote responsible innovation that protects consumers, and whether they think Congress should pass legislation in the digital assets space, including legislation to regulate stablecoins.
There is much work to be done to protect consumers and strengthen the financial system for all, and so I am eager to hear your testimonies today.