January 16, 2019

Warren Questions Nation's Largest Banks on Their Assistance to Americans Affected by Government Shutdown

Senator Seeks Details on How Banks are Helping Federal Workers, Contractors, and Businesses Struggling Due to President Trump's Shutdown

Text of the Letters (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) yesterday sent letters to the CEOs of Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, US Bancorp, and Wells Fargo seeking information asking how the nation's largest retail banks are helping workers and businesses facing financial hardship due to President Trump's government shutdown. The letters follow a request made last week by federal regulators encouraging financial institutions to work with customers affected by the ongoing federal government shutdown.

The shutdown is now in its 26th day-the longest in history-and over 800,000 federal workers have either been furloughed or have been forced to work without pay.  In addition, hundreds of thousands of federal contract workers, businesses that are dependent on these workers, and large and small businesses in need of federal government services are also facing lost paychecks and profits - with some "on the brink of financial ruin." 

On January 11, 2019, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sent a letter to financial institutions encouraging them to "work with customers affected by the federal government shutdown."  Credit unions and small banks have announced plans to provide financial assistance to federal employees in the form of payroll advances, low-interest loans, allowing delayed payments on loans, and providing access to additional financial counseling services.  The five large banks have also made similar promises.

"I agree with these regulators, and was pleased to see many credit unions and banks that serve federal employees act quickly to help them," the senator wrote in her letter. "But small banks and credit unions should not be the only financial services providers assisting federal workers during the shutdown. Your company and other large banks also have responsibilities - to your customers, and to the regulators that have asked you to provide assistance - and that's why I am pleased that your company and other large retail banks have taken actions to assist customers in need." 

Although Senator Warren commended the large retail banks for their promises, her letter pressed the CEOs for details on exactly which services they will be providing, and to which affected group of workers and businesses. 

"I'm glad that you are taking some steps to help your customers but these announcements do not provide full details about the services that are actually available to affected workers and businesses," the senator continued.

Senator Warren asked that the CEOs of these banks respond by to her inquiry by January 21, 2019.