U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) last week introduced the Fair Access to Banking Act.
The legislation would prevent discrimination by banks and financial service providers against Constitutionally-protected industries and law-abiding businesses.
The bill builds off the Trump Administration’s Fair Access Rule.
“Banking isn’t a red versus blue battleground,” Kennedy said. “Law-abiding Americans should have access to financial services regardless of political position. The Fair Access to Banking Act would ensure that banks rely on impartial risk assessments—rather than politicized discrimination—when providing their services. If banks want to become advocacy groups that ignore the Constitutional protections of their clients, they would be breaking the law,.”
The need for this legislation is driven by the recent actions of some of the largest U.S. banks that are using their economic standing to discriminate against energy producers. Last year, five of the country’s largest banks announced they will not provide loans or credit to support oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge even though Congress explicitly authorized it. Last fall, JPMorgan Chase declared it would refuse financial services to coal producers, and Bank of America began a politically-motivated effort to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its financing activities by 2050, an effort directly targeting producers of reliable American energy.
“Fairness matters,” Cramer said. “There is no place in our society for discrimination, and big banks are no exception. Financial service providers do not have the right to circumvent the Constitution or the law to create de-facto bans on legally-compliant businesses like energy producers or firearms manufacturers when they believe it is politically convenient. Our legislation makes it illegal to do so and imposes serious consequences on those who choose to violate the law.”
Discrimination by financial service providers also extends to industries protected by the Second Amendment, with banks like Capital One including “ammunitions, firearms, or firearm parts” in its prohibited payments section, and payment services like Apple Pay and PayPal denying their services for transactions involving firearms or ammunition.
In response to these developments, the Trump Administration created the Fair Access Rule—which this legislation would codify—to prevent these and other acts of discrimination, but President Joe Biden has paused the rule’s implementation.
U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have also cosponsored this legislation.
The bill has a wide array of industry support, including endorsements from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Independent Petroleum Association of America, National Rifle Association, Kentucky Coal Association, Lignite Energy Council, National Mining Association, National Association of Wholesale Distributors and the Day 1 Alliance.