Jul 1, 2010
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection legislation passed by the House includes a number of provisions introduced and championed by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) to increase access and opportunities for minorities and women.
“Many industries lack the inclusion and participation of people of color and women, perhaps none more egregiously than the financial services sector,” said Congresswoman Waters. “I wrote this legislation to make sure that federal financial regulatory agencies ensure diversity in their hiring and promotion, as well as in their contracting, so that competent and qualified minorities and women and minority-, women- and small-businesses have a seat at the table.
Congresswoman Waters continued, “Since minorities were preyed upon by unscrupulous lenders and other financial actors and are at higher risk when the economy takes a down turn, I am pleased that my legislation to ensure access to affordable, safe insurance products and to study the impact of wind down on underserved communities is included in the legislation that passed the House today.”
Increasing Access and Opportunity for Minorities
The historic lack of racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the federal financial services agencies is well known and documented. Expanding opportunities for female and minority professionals is the right thing to do, not only out of fairness but also to best serve the needs of our diverse population. Additionally, predatory lenders deliberately and systematically preyed upon minority and low-income individuals and helped cause this economic crisis. Implementing safeguards to ensure fair access, treatment and regulations for all is important to stabilize America’s financial system and economy.
Office of Minority and Women Inclusion: Women- and minority-owned firms were largely overlooked for the contracting opportunities made available by the government’s historic intervention at banks and other financial institutions. Congresswoman Waters authored an amendment, adopted by the House-Senate conference, to create Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the federal regulatory agencies – including the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Depository Insurance Company, among others – in order to ensure the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the work force and senior management. The offices would also increase the participation of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the programs and contracts of each agency.
Protecting Minority Communities when a Financial Institution Fails: The final conference committee report includes a provision to wind down failing financial institutions that pose a risk to the economy. Congresswoman Waters wrote legislation that would require the appropriate federal regulatory agency to consider the economic impact of the default of the failing institution on minority and low-income communities, and to take steps to avoid or mitigate the potential adverse effects on these communities prior to winding down the financial institution.
Ensuring Minority Access to Affordable Insurance Products: Minority and low-income communities were targeted by predatory lenders and have felt the impact of the recession severely – particularly during the meltdown of the subprime mortgage industry and the subsequent burst of the housing bubble. The House-Senate conference created a Federal Insurance Office (FIO) at the Treasury Department to monitor all aspects of the insurance industry, including practices that create systemic risk. Congresswoman Waters wrote legislation to task the FIO with monitoring the extent to which underserved communities, and minority and low-income persons, have access to affordable insurance products.
“This legislation has been designed to prevent another financial crisis, to reform how Wall Street and the nation’s major financial institutions operate, and to protect American consumers from predatory loans, excessive bank charges and credit card fees. Families and small businesses on Main Street in cities and towns across the country will benefit from our efforts to hold Wall Street accountable,” the Congresswoman said.
Congresswoman Waters served on the House-Senate conference committee that crafted the conference report by reconciling differences between House and Senate versions of the legislation. She negotiated with her colleagues, among both Democrats and Republicans, to include these provisions and others in support of the following priorities:
• Helping Homeowners
• Empowering Shareholders and Preventing Conflict of Interest
• Strengthening Consumer Financial Protection
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act protects savings and investments of American families and small businesses by making the financial system more transparent and accountable, closing loopholes that big banks have exploited, and ending taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street firms who made reckless decisions. To learn more about this legislation, click here.