Thursday, August 18, 2022

Executive News: Enough with excuses – it’s time to move!

Sen. Mitch McConnell is the Senate majority leader. He alone controls the agenda for the U.S. Senate. He alone is the “speed bump” between actually moving forward with consideration of S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, or continuing to let it languish until there is no more time left on the Senate calendar for action.

I’ve been mulling over what to say in this month’s column, either to or about Sen. McConnell. You always worry about any possible blowback when you criticize a legislator who’s holding a gun.

Photo of Roger M. Beverage
Roger M. Beverage, OBA President and CEO

Saying anything negative about him, or calling him names is just not my style. Unlike some members of the U.S. Congress, I don’t call people I disagree with an “idiot,” or even worse. I just simply disagree with them.

And I strongly disagree with Leader McConnell who, for whatever reason, is dragging his feet on the issue of whether to bring this bill to the Senate floor where it’s sure to pass. This is now the fourth time he’s “postponed” moving the bill to the Senate floor.

I admit I’m frustrated, and I can only imagine how frustrated my counterpart with the Kentucky Bankers Association must be right now. Ballard Cassady is my very close friend, and I don’t know anyone who works at this job harder than “BC.”

But the reality is, the month of January is gone. Here we are in February and we have no idea whether this bill is going to even be considered any time soon, or at all.

It’s not Ballard’s fault; it’s the Senate leader’s fault, and I for one wish I could talk to him for five minutes (very tough to get into his office in the Capitol if you’re not from Kentucky, even though you’ve contributed to his reelection campaigns).

To refresh your recollection, S. 2155 passed out of the Senate Banking Committee on Dec. 18, 2017. The bipartisan vote was 16-7, including four Democrats on the Committee: Sens. Tester (Mont.), Heitkamp (N.D.), Donnelly (Ind.) and Warner (Va.).

The Committee session that day survived 37 amendments offered chiefly by Sens. Warren (Ma.) and Brown (Ohio), all of which were intended to basically gut the bill. All of these amendments were defeated, again on a bipartisan vote.

Now the bill has been placed on the Senate legislative calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 287, according to “Thomas” at the Library of Congress (www.congress.gov). There are 23 co-sponsors of the bill, 12 of whom vote with the Democrat Caucus:

Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Mark Warner (D-Va.)
Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
Angus Kind (I-Maine) Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
Tim Scott (R-S.C.)
Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
David Perdue (R-Ga.) Tom Tillis (R-N.C.)
John Kennedy (R-La.)
Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) James Risch (R-Idaho)
Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
Roy Blunt (R-Mo) Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)

The bill itself is far from perfect, but it’s a start in an effort to make more mortgage credit available to more consumers. That’s its purpose, and nothing has changed that purpose over the course of the last four years we’ve been arguing for regulatory relief of this kind.

Passage of this bill should be a slam dunk, assuming all 51 Republican Senators vote “aye” on the bill. Assuming all 51 Republicans do so, there are 12 Democrats signed on as co-sponsors, which gets us to 63 votes, enough to break a filibuster.

I do know Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Lankford are committed to vote for this bill.

Enough with the excuses, Leader McConnell! Please! Put this bill on the Senate’s agenda for relatively quick action, and a political WIN for your leadership!

Community bankers across Oklahoma and across the country need this relief. More importantly, the customers of those banks need this relief.

It’s the right thing to do. So do it.