OCC Announces Final CRA Rule Changes, Moves Alone, Without FDIC or Federal Reserve

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced long-anticipated changes to rules that enforce the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) had previously joined the OCC in the rule-making effort, but it did not join in the final rule released today.

Jesse Van Tol, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and John Taylor, Founder and President of NCRC, made the following statements:

Jesse Van Tol:

“This is an awkward, disjointed and rushed move by a single agency that couldn’t get agreement from the two other agencies that regulate banks within the same administration. The OCC should have been able to agree and work with the other two agencies that oversee enforcement of the same law. It couldn’t. It failed. That’s an administrative fiasco. 

“It is telling that the FDIC wouldn’t join the OCC in this rulemaking process. It is also telling that this final 372-page set of rules came just six weeks after the close of the public comment period, a record-breaking pace, and a day before Comptroller Otting resigns from the agency. He just made a regulatory mess and he isn’t sticking around to fix it.

“The timing is shocking, in the middle of a pandemic that has been hardest on lower-income communities this law is supposed to protect. What an insulting and cruel moment to unleash new rules that will in some cases help banks to do less for some poor communities and communities of color. Those are the communities hit hardest by COVID-19.”

John Taylor:

“This solo move by the OCC breaks what should be a uniform system for all lenders. So if the new rules take hold, which is a big if, we’ll have an even more complex, confusing and broken system that will need to be repaired later.

“Just about everyone who has a stake in CRA, including bankers, urged the agencies to stop the rule-making processes during the COVID-19 crisis. The FDIC listened and opted to not move forward at this time. The OCC didn’t.

“The lack of participation from the FDIC and the Federal Reserve, and the rush to push this final rule through during a global pandemic, is of great concern. These changes are not in the best interest of any of the stakeholders involved, and they are clearly not in the public interest. Almost nobody wanted these rules now, and that included bankers.

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