Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, delivered the following statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: Oversight of America’s Largest Consumer Facing Banks.”
Testifying before us today, we have the CEOs of the seven largest U.S. commercial banks that each serve millions of consumers.
As Chairwoman of this Committee, I have prioritized conducting rigorous oversight over our nation’s largest banks and their activities. Last year, four of these megabanks testified before us. Since then, our nation continues to battle an ongoing pandemic, inflation that’s affecting every household’s budget, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising interest rates, and other crises that have battered our economy. In this environment, the role that banks play to protect consumers and provide access to affordable credit is absolutely critical.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen the system of banking in this country take a dramatic shift. Our nation’s biggest banks have gotten even bigger during the pandemic, in part, through mergers. Regulators have rubberstamped these merger applications for far too long, and it’s past time we get to the bottom of who these mergers are actually benefiting.
For starters, I remain concerned that branch closures across the country, which are often a consequence of mergers, are expanding banking deserts and harming communities that rely on branches for basic banking services.
The Committee will also examine banks’ commitments to underserved communities. As our nation’s racial-wealth gap widens and Black applicants and others continue to be discriminated against, I am eager to hear about their efforts to ensure communities of color finally get fair opportunities to build generational wealth. The CEOs will be asked for an update on the diversity and inclusion commitments they made following the murder of George Floyd, and details on additional measures they will take.
In addition, following news that Equifax sent inaccurate credit scores to lenders, who in turn used them to charge consumers higher interest rates or even deny them credit, I’d like to hear what these banks are doing to ensure their harmed customers are identified and promptly made whole.
As the compensation for these CEOs go up dramatically when compared to their tellers and other customer-facing employees, many of the banks they represent have simultaneously earned the title “repeat offenders” for their continued violations of the law. The Committee has reviewed a long list of unlawful actions resulting in fines, but these fines pale in comparison to the billions in profits these banks make, and amount to nothing more than another cost of doing business. So, I’d like to hear how these banks are working to update their compliance practices and commit to following the law.
There are many other issues the Committee will explore today, including the rise of emerging technologies. Many consumers have reported being scammed through money transfer apps like Zelle, all while the banks before us shrug their shoulders.
We also want to know what these banks are doing to protect their employees following the Supreme Court’s shameful decision to abolish Roe v. Wade, along with efforts to combat gun violence, and much more.
So, I look forward to hearing testimony from our witnesses today, and I yield back.
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