Assuming you read my column last month, you may recall that I shared a bit of my childhood about growing up a Harry Caray and Chicago Cubs fan. In the column I noted what got me so hooked on Harry – the way he described a home run.
“There’s a drive to left field; it might be outta here; it might be, it could be, IT IS! A HOME RUN!”
Well, during the OBA’s recent Annual Meeting and Convention in late May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2155 on a bipartisan vote of 258-159. Thirty-three Democrats joined with all but one Republican to approve the bill as it had passed the Senate.
That was on a Tuesday, the actual day of the Association’s membership business meeting. On Thursday, the president signed the bill and it is now the law of the land.
Oklahoma’s Markwayne Mullin was on the front end of our spear throughout our joint effort to get the bill passed. He was particularly helpful as we met with House leadership in an effort to persuade them that now is (was) the time for meaningful regulatory relief for community banks, and we could not have accomplished out objective without Markwayne’s help.
Note: for those of you who live and vote in Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District, I ask that you remember Markwayne’s support for you and your job when you cast your ballot on June 26 in the primary and again in November’s general election.
For the remainder of the convention, I was on a “high” that felt nothing like anything I had ever experienced professionally. We worked on modifying “The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” – Dodd-Frank – for eight years! We worked alongside our colleagues in the other state bankers associations as well as the ABA and ICBA to help right the “wrongs” done to the American consumer in the name of “reforming” the banking sector.
But for more than five years, a small group of us toiled in the “language vineyards” in an effort to identify banker priorities and fix the many unintended problems caused by Dodd-Frank. The state associations surveyed their member banks asking them to prioritize the most significant obstacles created by D-F that have gotten in the way of their ability to take care of bank customers.
We collected that information, engaged in a series of negotiations to finalize priorities and then drafted language. We drafted and re-drafted the various positions to get the wording right so the priorities of bankers would be foremost in the minds of advocates for the proposal.
We found authors, both Republicans and Democrats; hung out on Capitol Hill; camped out in offices of some decision-makers and bugged the devil out of anyone who might possibly be a “yes” vote.
It was a very broad and all-encompassing effort by A LOT of people – especially for those courageous Senate Democrats, Like Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who were willing to compromise and withstand the blast they would (and did!) receive from the likes of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) among others.
For the record, we had numerous visits with Sen. Warren and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) (mostly at the staff level, but some with the principals). In the end, we were unable to convince these two powerful legislators about the justice we were seeking for bank customers because they were more interested in political posturing than in keeping promises.
And in spite of all of the nonsense coming from Sen. Warren in particular about “big bank giveaways, gutting D-F and creating the basis for another bank “bailout” that was soon to come, we “got ‘er done!” With 17 Senate Ds and 33 House Ds. Not overwhelming, but pretty dadgummed good.
Most importantly, Oklahoma bankers in leadership positions over the past 10 years were front and center in these efforts. Bankers like Brad Krieger, Gregg Vandaveer, Marty Hansen, Jan Miller, Jane Haskin, Brad Swickey, David Cook, Paul Cornell, Mike Wynn, Curtis Davidson, Guy Sims and Sandy Werner, to name a few. They were the leaders who, along with their counterparts around the country, made it happen.
And I couldn’t be prouder of having been given the privilege to work alongside these and other great bankers.
And so, as I began, “It might be, it could be, IT IS! A Home Run! Holy Cow!”