The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee is calling on federal agencies to extend economic relief measures that Congress established in March, as lawmakers and the Trump administration struggle to reach a deal on the next round of aid.
In a letter to housing and bank regulators that was obtained by POLITICO, Senate Banking Chair Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) urged the officials to use their existing authority to continue eviction protections and looser lending rules — in effect doing an end run around Congress.
“Although there are already early, encouraging signs that the U.S. economy is beginning to heal, federal financial regulators must remain diligent, and continue to provide relief in light of a pandemic and economic conditions that continue to evolve,” he said in the letter sent Friday. The letter has not been publicly released.
Crapo sent the letter to leaders of the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., National Credit Union Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The nature of the request suggests that Crapo believes that lawmakers might not be able to address the measures in the near future. The letter gives the agencies additional cover to take matters into their own hands. Eviction protections that Congress passed in March expired on July 24.
Among Crapo’s requests were that HUD and FHFA extend moratoria on single-family home foreclosures and evictions. He also asked the FHFA to extend forbearance on multifamily property mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He said the actions would “stabilize our nation’s mortgage market.”
For lenders, Crapo asked regulators to maintain relaxed capital requirements for small banks until the end of 2021 and to further delay banks’ adoption of the so-called Current Expected Credit Losses accounting standard to 2023. That standard requires companies to forecast expected future losses as soon as they issue loans, a task made more complicated during the economic uncertainty created by the pandemic.
Congress in March scheduled those measures to expire at the end of this year or when the coronavirus national emergency declaration is terminated.