Bill would bar financial institutions from refusing or limiting banking services for political purposes
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined 36 of his U.S. Senate colleagues to introduce the Fair Access to Banking Act, a bill to protect fair access to financial services by preventing banks and financial institutions from discriminating against law-abiding businesses. The legislation would require banks to base service decisions on impartial, risk-based analysis developed through empirical data and evaluated under quantifiable standards – not on political priorities or preferences.
“Banks should make lending decisions based solely on economic factors – not woke political concerns,” said Senator Tuberville. “Big banks are bowing to pressure from woke activists who oppose loans being given to businesses that don’t fall in line with the left’s agenda. No financial institution should be pressured to cut off lending to a legitimate business. Financial discrimination is un-American and unacceptable. I’m proud to support the Fair Banking Act to push back against attempts to weaponize the banking sector for political reasons.”
If enacted, the Fair Access to Banking Act would:
- Penalize banks and credit unions with over $10 billion in assets, or their subsidiaries, if they refuse to do business with any legally-compliant entity that meets criteria under impartial, individualized risk-based analyses;
- Prevent payment card networks from discriminating against any qualified and legally-compliant entity because of political or reputational considerations;
- Codify the core requirements found in the Trump Administration’s Fair Access Final Rule;
- Require qualified banks to provide written justification for why they are denying a person financial services; and
- Punish providers who fail to comply with the law by disqualifying them from using discount window lending programs, terminating their status as an insured depository institution or insured credit union, or imposing a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.
This legislation is in response to financial institutions discriminating against legal industries. For example, in 2018, Citigroup instituted a policy to withhold project-related financing for coal plants; in 2020, five of the country’s largest banks announced they would not provide loans or credit to support oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, despite explicit congressional authorization. Such exclusionary practices extend to industries protected by the Second Amendment too, with Capital One, among other banks, including “ammunitions, firearms, or firearm parts” in the prohibited payments section of its corporate policy manual, and payment services like Apple Pay and PayPal denying their services for transactions involving firearms or ammunition. In response to these developments, the Trump Administration created the Fair Access Rule – which is codified in the Fair Banking Act – to prevent these examples and other acts of discrimination, but the rule’s implementation has since been paused under President Biden.
Cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jim Risch (R-ID), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tim Scott (R-SC), James Lankford (R-OK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Braun (R-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Hoeven (R-ND), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Katie Britt (R-AL), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.