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Meeks Welcomes White House’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy

July 9, 2021

Washington, D.C. - Today, the White House issued its Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy (the "EO"), which encourages the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the federal banking regulators to review their guidelines to ensure more robust scrutiny of bank mergers. Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Senior Member of the Financial Services Committee issued the following statement on the EO:

"The White House's announced effort to promote competition and better scrutinize mergers, specifically in the banking sector, is welcomed news. As the DOJ considers this new directive, I hope there's sufficient coordination amongst the federal banking regulators, especially the Federal Reserve (Fed) which is considering an overhaul of its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) framework. Banks' compliance with the spirit of CRA should be an important measure the DOJ reviews when considering bank mergers, and given the significant CRA reforms the Fed is leading, interagency coordination on this EO is critical.

"Furthermore, I hope the DOJ considers coordinating with state banking regulators as it conducts its review of its merger guidelines. As laboratories of democracy, state governments were the first to adopt antitrust laws and did so because of the direct impact mergers have on local economies. Accordingly, state banking regulators have a unique perspective on the local outcomes of bank mergers and should be offered a meaningful seat at the table as the DOJ evaluates its bank merger reviews.

"Last, the Biden-Harris Administration also issued an EO in January on Advancing Racial Equity where it directed all federal agencies to assess whether their programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities for people of color. Consistent with this mandate, the DOJ should closely examine bank mergers' impact on small community-focused institutions including Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). These institutions play a critical role in advancing racial equity in banking and supporting their longevity should be an important part of the DOJ's bank merger review."

Last year, Congressman Meeks held a field hearing in his district in Queens focused on modern day redlining where bank consolidation was largely discussed. At that hearing, the Congressman unveiled an office report which demonstrated that race, and in particular the density of black and Hispanic populations, is the predominant determinant of bank branch density, and banking deserts.