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Next Senate Banking Chairman Sets Low-Income and Climate Priorities | Press "Enter" to skip to content

Next Senate Banking Chairman Sets Low-Income and Climate Priorities

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One of his targets is the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathleen Kraninger, whom Mr. Brown said he had advised during a phone call to resign. His staff, he said, is also compiling a list of rules made final by Trump appointees, including Ms. Kraninger, so Democrats could try to scrap them using the Congressional Review Act, a law that lets Congress vote to reverse regulators’ actions.

Representatives of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had no immediate comment.

Mr. Brown, who was elected to his third term in 2018, said the committee’s first order of business would be to use congressional action to keep landlords from evicting people who could not pay their rent because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on their finances. He said Democrats wanted to provide additional pandemic relief and work quickly to confirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s nominees — all while an impeachment trial of President Trump could be playing out.

In the longer term, Mr. Brown said, he wants to get the Federal Reserve to set up bank accounts for members of the public who don’t have accounts at commercial banks. The so-called public option would allow users to cash paychecks and receive government benefits, such as refunds from a new child tax credit that he and other Senate Democrats have proposed.

Big banks have long resisted the idea of a public alternative to their services and have explored ways to pre-empt the creation of such a system. Early last year, for example, JPMorgan Chase officials discussed placing the company’s banking services like A.T.M.s in some post offices, although the plan was abandoned when the pandemic hit. Bank lobbyists have argued that the responsibilities of financial services would overwhelm public institutions like the Postal Service and that banks can carry out the duties more efficiently themselves.

But millions of people still do not have access to any kind of bank account, and Mr. Brown said the fees they paid for check-cashing services and payday loans were the kinds of expenses that kept them at the lowest levels of America’s economic strata.

To help remove that burden, Mr. Brown called for a 36 percent cap on interest rates for payday loans. At the moment, rate caps vary by state.

Mr. Brown has already raised some of his agenda with his Republican colleagues. He said he and Mr. Toomey had taken advantage of an unexpected opportunity to discuss the committee’s future: They put their heads together last Wednesday, while both were locked for hours in a secure location as rioters stormed the Capitol.


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