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Waters at Hearing on Megabanks: I Have Made It a Priority to Ensure Rigorous Oversight Over Megabanks

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee virtual hearing entitled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Update on Banking Practices, Programs and Policies.”

Good Afternoon. Today, this Committee convenes for a hearing entitled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Update on Banking Practices, Programs and Policies.”

And of course as you know, testifying before the Committee today, we will have the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs, who testified before the Senate yesterday and today’s testimony concludes two historic days, which are a true testament of the accountability that comes from Democratic control of the House and Senate.

As Chairwoman of this Committee, I have made it a priority to ensure that we are conducting rigorous oversight over megabanks and their activities. We last had all of the megabank CEOs to testify before the Committee in 2019.

Since then, there have been many developments involving megabanks that this Committee will be examining today.

I am eager to hear about the megabanks’ response to the pandemic crisis, including their provision of mortgage forbearance, affordable loan modifications, support for extending the foreclosure moratorium and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. I am concerned that the institutions led by our witnesses raked in billions in overdraft fees during the pandemic, at a time when individuals and families across the country are struggling through no fault of their own. Additionally, some of our banks prioritized wealthier clients for PPP lending, while processing smaller loans at a much slower pace or in some cases, turning small and minority-owned businesses away altogether. We heard so much about this from all over the country.

I have also asked our witnesses to describe their institutions’ efforts to reach underserved communities and address banking deserts, where communities do not have access to a bank branch. The four largest banks have closed thousands of bank branches over the past decade, and I am concerned that this is exacerbating the bank desert problem and harming communities that rely on branches for basic banking services.

This week also marks the tragic anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by white police officers, which focused America’s attention on racial injustice in this country. The megabanks responded by making a number of large commitments to support minority depository institutions, community development financial institutions and communities of color. Given that these banks have repeatedly been found to discriminate against our communities, the CEOs will be asked to explain if their banks are following through on those commitments and to learn what additional actions they will take this year to address racial disparities that remain pervasive in our banking system.

I am also looking forward to hearing from our witnesses about their progress improving the diversity and inclusion of their senior leadership, their boards and their investment in diverse-owned firms. Diverse representation at senior levels is key to ensuring a fair and equitable recovery for all communities.

There are many other topics of interest to this Committee that we will address today, including banks’ wages for their employees and compensation for their CEOs, their use of emerging technology such as artificial intelligence or products like cryptocurrency, the recent growth of megabanks, and megabanks’ actions to address climate risk.

I look forward to hearing testimony from all of our witnesses today.

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