Amid shakeup, Congressman who voted against credit union field of membership bill and in favor of marijuana banking appointed.
Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., has been selected as chairman of the reconstructed House Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy Subcommittee.
As he takes over the helm of the panel, House Financial Services Chairman Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., additionally announced a shakeup of the various subcommittees.
McHenry abolished the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee, which had been established under Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., when she chaired the committee during the last Congress.
He also announced the establishment of a Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion Subcommittee.
In what might be considered a more symbolic move, McHenry deleted the term “Financial Protection” from the financial institutions subcommittee and added “Monetary Policy.” Despite the renaming of the subcommittee, it will retain jurisdiction over consumer financial protection laws, as well as the CFPB—a frequent target of GOP members’ ire.
Following the announcement, Barr said that he looks “forward to exercising much needed oversight of other key financial regulators, including the OCC, FDIC, NCUA, CFPB and FSOC, to ensure that both financial institutions and their regulators are facilitating a safe, sound, diverse and accessible financial ecosystem that fosters growth and competition.”
Andy Barr and Credit Unions
Barr, an attorney, was first elected to the House in 2012, having defeated incumbent Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky. He is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
Last year, Barr opposed legislation that would have allowed all credit unions to add underserved areas to their fields of membership. During a House Financial Services Committee markup, Barr said he feared the bill would create an unlevel playing field, adding that all financial institutions should be encouraged to expand into underserved areas.
At the same time, he was also highly critical of the management of the CDFI Fund, telling officials there he believed that “the CDFI Fund’s lack of meaningful communication and guidance is placing unreasonable requirements on CDFI-certified credit unions as it works towards unveiling a new application for all entities currently scheduled to launch in April 2023.”
In addition, Barr was the cosponsor of legislation that would have allowed well-managed credit unions to meet six times a year rather than the current requirement of 12 times a year. He also cosponsored legislation that would have provided credit unions and banks with a regulatory safe harbor if they provided financial services to marijuana-related companies in states where cannabis is legal.
Barr’s reelection efforts have been financially supported by political action committees operated by CUNA and NAFCU. In 2018, he was also one of two congressional candidates singled out for support by the Friends of Traditional Banking super PAC. Barr has not, however, echoed the strident anti-credit union rhetoric of that group.
More Subcommittee Selections
McHenry further announced the selection of other committee and subcommittee chairmen.
He named Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich, to head the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, who immediately took aim at the Biden Administration.
“Over the last two years under the Biden Administration, financial regulators have created a complicated, overburdensome, and often arbitrary regulatory structure that has stifled economic growth and hindered small business job creation, all while failing to protect Americans from bad actors,” he said. “I look forward to leading the fight against this Administration’s repeated attempts to ignore congressional oversight. Today is a good day for the American people, and a bad day for bureaucrats in Washington.”
McHenry also appointed Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., as the full committee’s vice chair as well as chairman of the new Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion Subcommittee.
Following his appointment, Hill said, “At a time of major technological advancement and change in the financial sector, it is our job to work across the aisle and promote responsible innovation while encouraging FinTech innovation to flourish safely and effectively in the United States.”