News Column

Senate Passes Heitkamp-Backed Amendment to Guarantee Community Banker Presence on Federal Reserve Board

July 17, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate today unanimously passed legislation backed by U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp that would mandate the President nominate to the Federal Reserve Board at least one member with community bank experience.

Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs, believes it is critically important for someone to stand up for community banks when the Federal Reserve makes its consequential decisions. Earlier this year, Heitkamp led a letter with 15 other Senators to President Barack Obama to urge him to carefully consider the concerns of community banks when naming a nominee for the Federal Reserve Board.

The amendment was agreed to in consideration of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014, which was also agreed to today by the full Senate.

"Throughout North Dakota, community banks play one of the most important roles in making sure our rural residents and businesses have access to capital," said Heitkamp. "The decisions made by the Federal Reserve have significant and immediate impacts on our community bankers and the customers they serve. When these decisions are made, there should absolutely be a voice in the room to highlight the impact they will have on smaller banks and communities in rural America. It is good news for North Dakota that the Senate adopted our plan."

With 96 percent of North Dakota's businesses considered small businesses, community banks play a vital role in helping them grow, providing nearly half of small business loans and farm loans. Community banks are also about three times more likely than non-community banks to operate in rural areas. Small financial institutions, such as community banks, are often the only way rural families and small businesses can access the saving and lending markets.

Since entering the Senate, Heitkamp has been a vocal proponent of community and local banks, understanding their important role across North Dakota and large portions of the country. In August 2013, Heitkamp brought Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg to North Dakota to hear directly from bankers in the state about the importance of community and local banks to helping small businesses and communities thrive.

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Source: Congressional Documents & Publications

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