House Panel Eyes Bank Secrecy Act as Early Oversight Target

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By Rob Tricchinelli

The Bank Secrecy Act and the impact of federal law on appraisers will be early oversight targets of the House Financial Services Committee as a pair of Republican lawmakers settle into new leadership posts.

Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.) and Bill Huizenga (Mich.) share the deregulatory zeal of the full committee’s chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), and they plan to haul in officials from federal agencies to testify before the committee.

Luetkemeyer, who shifted over to lead the Financial Institutions Subcommittee after Rep. Randy Neugebauer (Texas) retired, wants the panel to lead the way on cybersecurity issues, Bank Secrecy Act compliance and mortgage finance.

Huizenga became chairman of the Capital Markets Subcommittee after former Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.) lost his re-election bid in November. In his new role, he wants robust oversight of SEC operations.

The pair will hold hearings to bolster pieces of the Financial Choice Act, the sprawling Dodd-Frank Act overhaul bill that Hensarling is working on revising. Hensarling told Bloomberg BNA the new bill will be unveiled “soon” but didn’t elaborate. While that effort will take up much of the committee’s bandwidth, the subcommittee chairmen still have broad latitude to pursue other goals.

Financial Institutions

High among Luetkemeyer’s priorities are hearings on how effective the Bank Secrecy Act is at curtailing illicit international financial activity and how institutions can beef up their cybersecurity and data security programs.

He also wants to explore how federal rules have affected the appraisal industry. “We’re losing appraisers left and right,” he told Bloomberg BNA in an interview. “We need more of them to analyze and appraise property.”

“We’ve got a whole list of stuff to go through,” Luetkemeyer said. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over federal banking regulators, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, consumer credit and deposit insurance.

Luetkemeyer, whose district spans Jefferson City and parts of the St. Louis suburbs, was first elected to Congress in 2008. He said he plans to introduce new versions of bills that would change how the Financial Stability Oversight Council designates nonbanks as “systemically important” and would stop the Justice Department’s Operation Choke Point.

The FSOC was created by Dodd-Frank to manage systemic risk in the financial system and has the power to label nonbanks for extra regulation. Operation Choke Point is designed to target banks’ payment processing for fraudulent businesses, but Luetkemeyer and other Republican critics say it targets specific types of businesses, like payday lenders and firearms dealers.

Capital Markets

On the Capital Markets panel, Huizenga is interested in following up on how the Securities and Exchange Commission addressed Dodd-Frank-mandated recommendations to improve its operations, as detailed in a 2011 Boston Consulting Group Inc. report.

The agency “basically said ‘oh, thank you very much’ and put it on the shelf,” Huizenga told Bloomberg BNA in an interview. “I want to take a look at that.” Huizenga was first elected to his reliably Republican western Michigan district in 2010.

Boston Consulting recommended technology upgrades and a better procedure to prioritize hiring in open positions, among other items. The SEC last updated Congress on the recommendations in 2013—the final report required by Dodd-Frank

Huizenga’s subcommittee has jurisdiction over the SEC, self-regulatory organizations like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, exchanges, securitizations, accounting, auditing, derivatives and mutual funds.

The subcommittee will also have hearings on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act and Regulation National Market System, Huizenga said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Tricchinelli in Washington at rtricchinelli@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at pdiamond@bna.com; Seth Stern at sstern@bna.com

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