Issues at the Forefront in Washington, D.C.

For the past 10 years, we have been hosting our IBA Annual Washington Trip in late September or early October. Originally we selected this timing, because it seemed to work best into our schedule. While that continues to be true, it is highly unlikely that we would ever want to change the timing of this important annual pilgrimage. Why? Because so many times, we have been in Washington, D.C., at critical junctures, from both banking and historical standpoints. To clarify, we do take smaller groups to DC two or three times each year, but this trip in the fall is our big one. This year we will have attendance from nearly 60 bankers and about 90 people overall.

We were in DC in 2008, when Congress was considering the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). We were the only bankers in town, and our opinions were continually being sought out. A couple of years later, we were there when members of the House of Representatives were in the midst of discussing what ultimately would become the Dodd-Frank Act. We did not do well at dissuading them from passing this disastrous legislation. Then, three years ago, we were again in DC when the federal government was shut down, due to Congress’ failure to pass legislation to fund the government.

Next Monday and Tuesday, we will again be in Washington, when Congress is yet again considering how to fund government. While no one appears to want a shutdown, it is certainly a real possibility. The focal point centers on a subset of the Republican House of Representative members, who want to eliminate from the budget any funding of Planned Parenthood. While much shuffling and maneuvering is occurring and will continue to occur, it is unlikely that this issue will be resolved prior to Sept. 30, our departure date.

From a banking standpoint, too, it could be a pivotal time, as efforts continue to find a consensus agreement to provide regulatory relief for banks, particularly community banks, so that they can once again serve their customers. Despite some cries that the Dodd-Frank Act should not be changed, there appears to be agreement that DFA is not perfect and, indeed, should be amended to fix those parts that are not working as intended. Democrats and Republicans have very different opinions about what should be in any legislation to accomplish this fix. There is even much disagreement within the two caucuses over what should be in this legislation. While it is unlikely that this issue will come to resolution during our time in DC, rest assured that we will be pressing both parties to come to an agreement and to provide banks with the tools needed to serve their customers and grow their communities.

Last week Sen. Joe Donnelly spoke at the IBA Annual Convention. Sen. Donnelly sits on the Senate Banking Housing & Urban Affairs Committee and is a key member involved in trying to arrive at a consensus piece of legislation. He has indicated that he has high hopes for a bill that could pass yet this year. Those of us on the IBA Annual Washington Trip will certainly be trying to rally support of those who are working with the senator on both sides of the aisle.

Next week may be another of those moments when the Indiana banking delegation will be present for history in the making in our nation’s capital. Only time will tell.

– S. Joe DeHaven

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