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Senate Hearing Readout

Senate Hearing Readout

Last week, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing that AFSA attended and to which we submitted a letter for the record. AFSA’s main goal was to ensure that senators did not promote an extension of rate caps or an expansion of the Military Lending Act (MLA). While we had heard that Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), a Banking committee member and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, might offer legislation expanding the MLA, he did not broach the issue during the hearing.

Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) opened by highlighting some of the legal protections already in place for servicemembers and veterans. He also emphasized the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) role in protecting servicemembers’ financial well-being and expressed concerns on the impact of inaccurate credit reports and medical debt. He ended by talking about the significance of the MLA and applauded the CFPB’s enforcement of the MLA.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) led the committee Republicans in the absence of Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC). Senator Rounds reiterated the importance of servicemember financial security but cautioned that overregulation was not the best way to achieve that goal. He also encouraged financial literacy programs for servicemembers.

The three witnesses on the panel represented the Military Officers of America, the National Military Family Association, and the Association of Military Banks of America. Both the Military Officers and the Military Family Association witnesses talked about the CFPB’s role in the financial well-being of servicemembers. The Military Banks witness noted the need for government agencies to work with the private sector to best serve military members.

Although multiple Democrat senators praised the MLA in protecting servicemember finances, no senator encouraged the MLA to be broadened to include all Americans. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) did express interest in broadening MLA to include veterans.

AFSA will continue to stay in contact with members of the Banking Committee and will continue to fight against efforts to expand the MLA or otherwise impose arbitrary rate caps on hardworking Americans.

November 8th, 2023

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