FDIC chair hopes regulators will ‘come together’ on CRA reform: Report

WASHINGTON — The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. became the second top regulator in as many weeks to voice support for an interagency framework to reform the Community Reinvestment Act.

“I would hope that the agencies will come together and have a uniform application of the new CRA framework for all our entities, whether national bank, FDIC bank or [Federal Reserve-supervised] state bank,” FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams said in an interview with Politico published Monday.

Her comments reinforce recent optimism that the FDIC, Fed and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are focused on settling years of disagreement over CRA.

The OCC issued a unilateral CRA reform rule in May under former Comptroller Joseph Otting, but critics objected to how it would measure sufficient CRA activity. The FDIC and Fed declined to sign on to the rule, and the Fed outlined an alternative CRA plan in September.

Most of the OCC’s CRA rule will not be effective until 2023. That combined with the Biden administration’s ability to name a new comptroller leaves the door open to the agencies agreeing on a unified approach. Bankers have urged the agencies to speak with one voice on reforming the decades-old anti-redlining law.

McWilliams comments to Politico echoed testimony last month by Fed Chair Jerome Powell to the House Financial Services Committee, in which he said, “There is an opportunity for a harmonized [CRA] rule among the agencies.”

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