WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A group of Senate Democrats is working to provide regulatory relief for smaller financial institutions operating in rural America. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is the ranking member of the Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection. "Banks and credit unions in Oregon almost exclusively fall into the community and small financial institution categories. It’s especially true of financial institutions that serve our rural communities, which have deep roots in small communities. From the Bank of Eastern Oregon, headquartered in Heppner, population of 1,300. It has 13 branches and $325 million in assets. And, Mid Oregon Credit Union headquartered in Bend, serving rural Central Oregon as well as the Warm Springs Tribe. Mid Oregon has six branches and $213 million in assets," Senator Merkley said during last week's subcommittee hearing.
He also called out big banks for their role in the Great Recession, "There remains strong bipartisan support for reforming the activities of Wall Street. That said, we all know that community banks and small credit unions did not cause the financial crisis. As legislators then, we need to strike a balance to provide appropriate consumer protection from predatory products while ensuring that community banks and credit unions can do their job providing credit in rural America." Merkley added, "The caution I would have is against trying to use the challenges of banks in rural America as a wedge to restore the New York ‘Wall Street casino operations’ that brought down America. That has been a choice strategy that we’ve been witnessing here on Capitol Hill. And, that would be a mistake."
Several credit union representatives testified at that hearing, saying regulations like Dodd-Frank, which were passed to prohibit another crash, are causing big burdens for small financial institutions.