Reps. Bonamici, Fitzpatrick sponsor bill to help student borrowers repay debt

U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are sponsoring a bill to help student loan borrowers avoid default.© Shutterstock The Streamlining Income-driven, Manageable Payments on Loans for Education (SIMPLE) Act would automatically enroll struggling borrowers in income-driven repayment plans so they can repay based on financial ability. “Although the Biden-Harris administration has taken […]

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U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are sponsoring a bill to help student loan borrowers avoid default.

© Shutterstock

The Streamlining Income-driven, Manageable Payments on Loans for Education (SIMPLE) Act would automatically enroll struggling borrowers in income-driven repayment plans so they can repay based on financial ability.

“Although the Biden-Harris administration has taken encouraging steps to improve student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans, there is more we can do to help borrowers,” Bonamici, chair of the Education & Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, said. “The bipartisan SIMPLE Act will streamline the enrollment process for income-driven repayment plans, making it easier for borrowers to access affordable payments and avoid catastrophic defaults. It is unacceptable that people who invested time and resources in their education have to navigate a needlessly complicated student repayment system. The decision to go to college shouldn’t lead to financial ruin, and I’m glad to work across the aisle to find an urgent, common-sense solution to the convergent crises of growing student debt and diminishing college affordability.”

The legislation would use information already on file at the Department of Education and U.S. Treasury to connect borrowers automatically with existing repayment plans. It would also remove the redundant annual paperwork for updating income information while enrolled in these plans.

“For too many, student loan debt is a crippling burden that impacts borrowers’ involvement in our economy and achieving personal goals like owning a home, starting a family, and supporting the community. Investing in one’s own future through higher education should not lead to long-term financial distress,” Fitzpatrick said. “Student loan defaults have damaging consequences for borrowers that can last for significant periods of time, an issue only worsened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to support the SIMPLE Act, which will provide our students and borrowers what they deserve: more efficient access to the repayment resources already at their disposal.”

The bill has been endorsed by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), Third Way, and New America.

“Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans offer a lifeline for millions of student loan borrowers, making repayment more affordable and helping struggling borrowers avoid default,” NASFAA President and CEO Justin Draeger said. “Unfortunately, the complexities of enrolling and remaining in IDR keep many vulnerable borrowers from accessing this important safety net. The SIMPLE Act would expand access to affordable income-driven repayment options by automatically enrolling struggling borrowers in IDR plans before they experience the punitive consequences of default. The bill also eliminates burdensome annual paperwork requirements, making it easier for borrowers to remain enrolled in IDR. The financial aid community stands in support of this bill.”

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Reps. Huizenga, Luetkemeyer introduce INDEX Act

U.S. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Bill Huizenga (R-MI) introduced a bill in the House that would require investment advisors of index funds to vote proxies in accordance with the instructions of fund investors.© Shutterstock The Investor Democracy is Expected (INDEX) Act would not leave the voting up to the adviser’s discretion. Simply put, the […]

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U.S. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Bill Huizenga (R-MI) introduced a bill in the House that would require investment advisors of index funds to vote proxies in accordance with the instructions of fund investors.

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The Investor Democracy is Expected (INDEX) Act would not leave the voting up to the adviser’s discretion. Simply put, the adviser would be responsible for passing through the proxies, collecting the instructions, and voting according to the investors’ wishes.

“The ‘Big 3’ investment advisors are the largest owners in 96 percent of the S&P 500 companies, which is an alarmingly high concentration of unchecked voting power,” Luetkemeyer, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, said. “The INDEX Act will give investors – including anyone with a 401K, a pension plan, or who owns a mutual fund – a seat at the table and provide much-needed transparency in our corporate governance system.”

The proposed legislation is a companion bill to one already introduced in the U.S. Senate.

“Millions of retail investors are currently having their voices silenced. For too long, passive investors have lacked the ability to influence decisions made by publicly traded companies they own stock in. I am introducing the INDEX Act to restore voting power for retail investors,” Huizenga, ranking member of the Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets Subcommittee, said. “Congress must act to hold asset management firms accountable for their politicized actions. The INDEX Act achieves this goal by increasing transparency and empowering retail investors.”

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Bipartisan legislators seek insight on enforcement of health insurance industry antitrust

A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently forwarded correspondence to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), seeking insight regarding health insurance industry federal antitrust enforcement. © Shutterstock U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ken Buck (R-CO), and David Cicilline (D-RI) sent a letter to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, requesting information […]

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently forwarded correspondence to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), seeking insight regarding health insurance industry federal antitrust enforcement.

© Shutterstock

U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ken Buck (R-CO), and David Cicilline (D-RI) sent a letter to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, requesting information regarding how the DOJ is utilizing expanded authorities address health insurance industry anti-competitive practices.

The lawmakers noted that DeFazio’s Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (CHIRA), signed into law in January 2021, eliminated a special interest loophole empowering the DOJ to enforce federal antitrust law in the health insurance industry. 

“Repealing the antiquated antitrust exemption for the health insurance industry was a monumental legislative achievement, but we must ensure the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission use their expanded authorities to crack down on any anticompetitive practices in this wealthy industry,” DeFazio said. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 1 in 4 Americans—including insured Americans—were skipping medical care and prescription drug doses because of high costs. Today, while affordable medical care is more important than ever, health insurance companies continue to price-gouge consumers and reap massive profits on the backs of seniors, working families, and everyday Americans.”

The lawmakers requested answers to questions addressing whether the Antitrust Division submitted any amicus briefs, notices of supplemental authority, business advisory opinions, or other filings regarding the legal consequences of the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act in any private litigation; steps the Antitrust Division has taken to review existing healthcare guidelines to determine whether refinements or new guidelines are needed; and whether there are other statutes or case law preventing DOJ efforts to enforce health insurance markets antitrust laws.

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Read more / Original news source: https://financialregnews.com/bipartisan-legislators-seek-insight-on-enforcement-of-health-insurance-industry-antitrust/

ASA commends House committee’s approach to SEC Rule 15c2-11

The American Securities Association (ASA) recently expressed support for the House Financial Services Committee’s position regarding Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 15c2-11 and implications for Rule 144A debt offerings.© Shutterstock U.S. Reps. David Kustoff (R-NY) and French Hill (R-AR) spearheaded the effort to forward correspondence to the SEC, detailing rule 144A offerings provide liquidity, […]

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The American Securities Association (ASA) recently expressed support for the House Financial Services Committee’s position regarding Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 15c2-11 and implications for Rule 144A debt offerings.

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U.S. Reps. David Kustoff (R-NY) and French Hill (R-AR) spearheaded the effort to forward correspondence to the SEC, detailing rule 144A offerings provide liquidity, competitive pricing and opportunities to help companies create jobs, grow and innovate.

“While ASA appreciates the SEC staff no-action letter from December 2021 on 15c2-11, applying this rule to fixed income would be a significant change to the SEC’s current rule set,” ASA Head of Government Affairs Kelli McMorrow said. “We strongly recommend the SEC issue a formal rulemaking proposal under the Administrative Procedure Act prior to making this type of substantive policy change to the corporate bond market.”

McMorrow said ASA is concerned the SEC’s policy would impact fixed income market liquidity, including offerings that fall under Rule 144A.

“We applaud the bipartisan members of the Financial Services Committee for asking the SEC to seek public feedback on this issue,” she said.

In October 2021, the association forwarded a letter to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler in which ASA CEO Chris Iacovella detailed support for Rule 15c2-11 and the increased transparency it provides to retail investors in the over-the-counter (OTC) equity market.

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House unanimously passes Hollingsworth legislation encouraging more investments from venture capital firms

U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) recently introduced legislation encouraging more investment from venture capital firms. © Shutterstock The Developing and Encouraging our Aspiring Leaders (DEAL) Act, which unanimously passed the U.S. House Wednesday night, would provide small businesses and startups with more access to capital to grow their business ideas. “Now more than ever, we […]

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U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) recently introduced legislation encouraging more investment from venture capital firms.

© Shutterstock

The Developing and Encouraging our Aspiring Leaders (DEAL) Act, which unanimously passed the U.S. House Wednesday night, would provide small businesses and startups with more access to capital to grow their business ideas.

“Now more than ever, we need to foster the growth of small businesses and local startups,” Hollingsworth said. “This bill will help Hoosier businesses access the critical capital needed to grow, invest in our communities, and create more jobs. I encourage the Senate to act and pass the companion bill quickly.”

The legislation would require the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to expand the definition of a qualifying investment to include broader equity securities. The bill would allow venture capital funds to provide necessary growth capital as those companies go public without having to register as a registered investment adviser.

The National Venture Capital Association said it applauded the legislation’s passage.

“We are pleased Congress is focused on improving capital formation in the startup ecosystem through a more accurate definition of a venture capital fund,” said NVCA President & CEO Bobby Franklin. “If executed properly, the bill will align venture capital regulation with the current realities of the industry. It will also make more capital available for early-stage companies and expand entrepreneurial activity into more regions of the country.”

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)

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CFPB and Justice Department Caution Auto Finance Companies about Servicemember Protections

The Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a joint letter today reminding auto finance companies of their responsibilities to recognize important legal protections for military families under the Servicemembers…

The Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a joint letter today reminding auto finance companies of their responsibilities to recognize important legal protections for military families under the Servicemembers Civil Rights Act (SCRA). While servicemembers have the same rights as non-military borrowers, the SCRA provides additional rights to protect servicemembers and their families against unique financial challenges.

Read more / Original news source: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-and-justice-department-caution-auto-finance-companies-about-servicemember-protections/

FDIC and Federal Reserve Board issue letter demanding Voyager Digital cease and desist from making false or misleading representations of deposit insurance status

FDIC and Federal Reserve Board issue letter demanding Voyager Digital cease and desist from making false or misleading representations of deposit insurance status

FDIC and Federal Reserve Board issue letter demanding Voyager Digital cease and desist from making false or misleading representations of deposit insurance status

Read more / Original news source: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/bcreg20220728a.htm

Federal Reserve Board approves discount rate action by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Minneapolis

Federal Reserve Board approves discount rate action by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Minneapolis

Federal Reserve Board approves discount rate action by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Minneapolis

Read more / Original news source: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/monetary20220728a.htm

Federal Reserve Board announces termination of enforcement action with United Bank of El Paso del Norte

Federal Reserve Board announces termination of enforcement action with United Bank of El Paso del Norte

Federal Reserve Board announces termination of enforcement action with United Bank of El Paso del Norte

Read more / Original news source: https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/enforcement20220728a.htm

House advances bill to foster cannabis research

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation designed to streamline the application process for marijuana researchers and remove FDA barriers to encourage research on marijuana. © Shutterstock The bill — the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act – passed in the house with 325 votes. “Research is a foundational element for cannabis policy,” Rep. […]

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation designed to streamline the application process for marijuana researchers and remove FDA barriers to encourage research on marijuana.

© Shutterstock

The bill — the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act – passed in the house with 325 votes.

“Research is a foundational element for cannabis policy,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), one of the billʻs sponsors and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said. “At a time when there are four million registered medical marijuana patients and many more likely to self-medicate, it is crucial that researchers are able to fully study the health benefits of cannabis. For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers obtaining resources and approval to study cannabis. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is an important first step to changing that.”

It was also sponsored by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).

“As a physician who has conducted NIH-sponsored research, I am pleased that this bill has finally passed and that scientists will be able to research what medical marijuana can and cannot do. While there is evidence to suggest that medical marijuana may be beneficial in the treatment of some diseases like glaucoma and epilepsy, only scientific research will prove the veracity of the many claims regarding efficacy for other diseases. Despite lacking much scientific research, over three dozen states have already legalized medical marijuana, and the American public deserves to know the effect modern marijuana has on the human body. While I support additional research for the use of medical marijuana, my position on recreational marijuana remains the same – I categorically oppose it,” Harris said.

The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote. U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) are among those who are in favor of its passage.

“The medical community agrees that we need more research to learn about marijuana’s potential health benefits, but our federal laws today are standing in the way of us finding those answers,” Schatz said. “We are now one step closer to removing excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options.”

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