Senator Scott: Banks Are Not Arbiters of Social Policy

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) released the statement below following today’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) on Fair Access to Banking by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

There is absolutely no place for discrimination in the financial services industry,” Scott said. “As a country, we continue to feel the unjust impacts of redlining and banks that refused to do business with lawful, creditworthy individuals. Unfortunately, we know exactly what happens when banks attempt to play policymakers. 

Scott continued, Banks provide financial services; they are not arbitrators of social policy. They should not punish legal industries like payday lenders or firearms dealers because they disagree politically, nor should they promote credit to politically favored industries. I applaud the OCC for making it clear that banks should make their business decisions based on quantifiable risk-based analysis of customers’ creditworthiness, rather than internal policy decisions about what legal products and services should be available to consumers and markets.

Additional Background

Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Justice initiated “Operation Choke Point,” pressuring financial institutions to stop doing business with payday lenders and firearms dealers. For more than a decade, the OCC has provided guidance that banks should evaluate customer risks individually and that banks should avoid terminating services to broad categories of customers. The NPR codifies the guidance and clarifies the meaning of fair access to banking services in language that Congress added to the OCC’s mission in Title III of the Dodd-Frank Act. That language charged the OCC with “assuring the safety and soundness of, and compliance with laws and regulations, fair access to financial services, and fair treatment of customers by, the institutions and other persons subject to its jurisdiction.”