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Hill Update - July 2021 Newsletter

As his term approaches its end, Better Markets carefully monitored Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s semi-annual appearance before the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees.  We also provided substantive input for a House panel’s deliberation on investor protection, entrepreneurship, and the capital markets, as well as monitored a Senate hearing on the growing risks of climate change.  We’ll continue to keep a close eye on Congress until they leave for their August recess. 

Fed Chairman Powell testifies

On July 14 and 15, 2021, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified before the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee.  These hearings, which the Congressional panels conduct twice a year to provide oversight of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, are an important opportunity for Members of Congress to ask the nation's central banker for a progress report on the state of the economy.  This is particularly important in light of the unprecedented actions the Fed has taken – and continues to take in response to the economic and financial crisis caused by the pandemic.

During the hearings, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized the Federal Reserve’s recent trend of weakening financial protection rules that protect Main Street families, businesses, and community banks from Wall Street’s dangerous, high risk and often anti-social activities.  Chairman Brown used his opening statement and he and Senator Warren used their questions to press Chair Powell on the Federal Reserve's seemingly endless pro-Wall Street agenda under his tenure.  

House panel debates ratings agency reforms

On July 21, the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets held a hearing called “Bond Rating Agencies: Examining the “Nationally Recognized” Statistical Rating Organizations.”

Better Markets was pleased to be asked to provide a statement for the record for the hearing, with extensive background on the role that the ratings agencies played in fueling the 2008 financial crisis, and the prospects for addressing the longstanding conflicts of interest that are inherent in the ratings agencies' business models.  You can read our statement here.

Senate committee considers climate impacts

On July 20, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled “21st Century Communities: Climate Change, Resilience, and Reinsurance.”  During the hearing, Chairman Brown, a strong ally of Better Markets, cited the growing risk of climate change-related natural disasters, such as wildfires and tropical storms.  Other Senators on the Committee, including Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) talked about the importance of including investments in infrastructure resilience in any transportation spending bill that Congress passes this year.  

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