Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., introduced the Fair Access to Banking Act to stop woke ideology from dictating financial decisions.
They also wrote an op-ed for Townhall in response to alarming trends at big financial institutions to de-bank those who support conservative causes.
Democrats first devised the effort during the Obama administration, when former attorney general Eric Holder spearheaded Operation Choke Point to bully banks out of supporting right-leaning industries like fossil fuels and firearms.
Holder threatened those who objected with enhanced federal scrutiny, much as Obama’s IRS notoriously targeted conservative nonprofits by imposing burdensome regulations.
The problem has only gotten worse in the Biden era, as many companies have had their board rooms infiltrated by radical progressives who actively push the leftist agenda, often to the detriment of the companies themselves.
Several overzealous banks have already hopped on the green-energy bandwagon.
JP Morgan Chase announced last year that coal producers could no longer use the company’s banking services.
Bank of America announced that it would selectively refuse financial servies to coal, natural gas, and oil producers in order to help the United States reach net-zero carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050.
Barr and Cramer note that left-wing banks that discriminate against energy producers will eventually turn their attention toward the “firearm and ammunition industry, as well as many other law-abiding businesses which employ millions and supply our citizens with goods and services they need.”
They warned that the Obama-era tactics, which combined “political pressure” with a “blatant disregard for the rule of law and abuse of power,” are “being reasserted today” by the Biden administration.
Former President Donald Trump sought to reverse the Obama administration’s power grab, by instructing Brian Brooks, the acting comptroller of the currency, to pass the Fair Access Rule, which he did in January.
But soon after taking office, President Joe Biden began to encourage partisan debanking yet again by rescinding the Trump policy.
Biden ordered the Office of the Comptroller of Currency to block the rule’s implementation so that the new administration could “review the final rule and the public comments the OCC received, as part of an orderly transition.”
Barr and Cramer said their proposed bill would require the financial institutions to “provide equitable access to financial services on risk-based metrics,” not woke ideology. Instead, real economic factors, like credit and risk, would inform financial assessments.
When the OCC blocked the Fair Access Rule, it said that its “long-standing supervisory” guidance that “banks should avoid termination of broad categories of customers without assessing individual customer risk remains in effect.”
Barr and Cramer argue, however, that Biden “intends to leverage the full powers of financial regulators to tackle unrelated social goals and carry out its progressive political agenda.”
The Fair Access to Banking Act would enshrine the Fair Access Rule into law, preventing the executive branch from changing its regulatory policy at will.
“A difference in political views is not a valid reason to deny a business fair access to capital, yet that is what banks and financial institutions are doing,” Barr and Cramer wrote.
“Our bill builds on the OCC’s Fair Access to Financial Services rule and makes it clear unjustifiably discriminating against entire industries will not be tolerated,” they added.