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Waters Joins Vice President Kamala Harris on the Initial Release of Funds for Minority Banks and Community Based Lenders

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at the White House, where she was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), and Opportunity Finance Network President and CEO Lisa Mensah, on the initial release of funds secured by Congresswoman Waters as part of the December stimulus package.

Good afternoon. Thank you for having me today. Before I begin, I would like to thank Vice President Harris, Treasury Secretary Yellen, Senator Warner, and Ms. Mensah for their unwavering support and efforts to strengthen our minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). These diverse and mission-driven institutions have been instrumental in ensuring that critical aid reaches small businesses, vulnerable communities, and those in dire need during the pandemic.

Over the past year, Senator Warner and I have teamed up to pass historical legislation directing the Federal Government to make capital investments, grants, deposits in our nation’s MDIs and CDFIs. Because communities of color have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, I worked with Senator Warner to include key provisions of my bill, the Promoting and Advancing Communities of Color Through Inclusive Lending Act, in last December’s COVID-19 stimulus package. I’m pleased that this issue is not only bicameral but also bipartisan as I was also able to work with Senators Crapo and Brown, Representative Meeks, and my Committee’s Ranking Member, Mr. McHenry, to secure an unprecedented $12 billion in capital investments and grants to strengthen MDIs and CDFIs.

Supporting our nation’s CDFIs and MDIs has long been a priority for me. Over 40 years ago, I began working with CDFIs in my home state of California and was a founding director of the CDFI, Pacific Coast Regional Corporation. The lessons I learned back then are just as relevant today: CDFIs are critical lenders for our communities of color, and infusions of capital like the one being announced today I am so proud that this is a game changing operation. So, I am pleased to be here today for the initial release of $1.25 billion in CDFI and MDI. and applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for keeping their promises of an equitable recovery to vulnerable communities. So, under my leadership my Committee will continue to look at these issues. CDFIs are high on our agenda and we are continuing to strengthen them and make them more accessible to our communities.

While this is a historic investment, our work does not end here. According to one news report, between sixty six and seventy nine percent of minority business owners said that their firms’ financial conditions were “fair” or “poor” during the pandemic, whereas only fifty four percent of White business owners endorsed their firms being in one of these conditions. I see this investment as a down payment on what we need to restore our MDIs and to support our CDFIs.

Earlier this month, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre that destroyed Black owned businesses and killed hundreds of Black men, women, and children. So, as we approach the commemoration of the end of slavery in America on Juneteenth, we must acknowledge that we carry the responsibility on our shoulders to make sure that progress is made, that Black and Latinx small businesses remain open and not boarded up, that pandemic relief reaches every family and every community, and that our recovery is equitable across the country.

So, I thank you once again for inviting me and I look forward to continuing our work on behalf of CDFIs and MDIs. Now, I would like to introduce someone who has been a long time advocate for CDFIs and MDIs, and someone who I have worked closely on this issue with, my colleague Senator Mark Warner.

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