March 14, 2018

Senator Warren Calls on Senate to Reject Bank Lobbyist Act

Video (Facebook)

Washington, DC ­- United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today delivered her sixth floor speech opposing the Senate's Bank Lobbyist Act.  In her remarks, Senator Warren discussed how the Senate should be working for the American people, rather than big banks, and called on her colleagues to reject the legislation.

Senator Warren also urged Congress to instead focus on passing her new legislation, the Ending Too Big to Jail Act, which would hold Wall Street executives criminally accountable for cheating Americans.

The full text of her remarks, as prepared for delivery, is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
*As prepared for delivery*
March 14, 2018

On Friday, I held a town hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.  On Saturday, we had another town hall, this time in Weymouth, Mass.  I met with kids at Weymouth High who are forming a "Never Again" group and who want us to pass some sensible gun regulations.  I met dreamers who want us to pass DACA.  I met people who fled the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and who want to see a comprehensive plan for rebuilding the island.  I met people who live along the South Shore and who are deeply worried about rising oceans and the need for building resilience into our coastline housing and infrastructure.  I met people alarmed by the rising cost of health care and about Republican efforts to roll back Obamacare and Medicaid and Medicare.  I even met someone who wants to see us focus more effort on criminal justice reform.

There is so much Congress could do.  There are so many problems the American people are asking us to solve.

But not one single person at my town halls or meetings or press interviews or picking up a pizza at Armando's asked for Congress to work on rolling back the rules on some of the biggest banks in the country so that they can crash the economy again.  That's what this bill does.  Really.

The Congressional Budget Office experts say the bill will increase the chances that taxpayers will have to bail out the big banks again.  CBO also says the bill could allow Wall Street banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase to significantly reduce their capital requirements.  Professor Jeffrey Gordon, an expert in financial regulation at Columbia Law School, says the bill "will produce a race-to-the-bottom dynamic that will dramatically increase the chance of another financial crisis." And the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg both editorialized that the bill includes dangerous giveaways to big banks.

But, buried down in the details of the bill, are more landmines for American families.  The bill guts protections for families that buy traditional and mobile homes and undermines our ability to enforce civil rights laws. And for what? So that banks that are already making record profits can tack on a little more to their bottom line?

If the Senate is going to spend two weeks dealing with the big banks, we should be making the rules tougher, not weaker. Today, I introduced the Ending Too Big to Jail Act, which would help make sure big bank executives are hauled out of their corner offices in handcuffs the next time they break the law. That would do more for America's working families than anything in this bill -- and I'm going to fight to make it the law.

What does it say about Washington that Republicans and Democrats can't come together to support commonsense gun reforms or solutions for working families - but can come together to deregulate big banks on the tenth anniversary of the start of the 2008 financial crisis?

Here's what I think it says: Washington has become completely disconnected from the real problems in people's lives.  This place works great for the people who can hire fancy lobbyists and write big checks, but it doesn't work for anyone else.

This is personal for me. I grew up in Oklahoma on the ragged edge of the middle class. My family struggled, and when it looked like things were getting just a little better, my daddy had a heart attack, he lost his job, and we nearly lost our house. I was 12, and I know what it feels like to hear your mother cry every night.  I know what it feels like to wonder if you'll have to change schools or move to another town because the bank is going to take your house away.  I know because I lived it.

When the economy collapsed ten years ago, I would go to bed at night thinking about the millions of people who worked hard, played by the rules, and then had their dignity stripped away from them because somebody they never met gambled with their family's future -- and lost. I wondered about the kids.  I wondered about their mothers.  I wondered about their daddies.  A foreclosure isn't just some dry financial transaction-it's the kind of event that can tear a family apart. 

The American people aren't going to stand by while the big banks and other giant corporations run this economy and this Congress for their own benefit.  And soon - maybe not today, or next week, or even in the next election - but soon, they will demand a government that works for the people.