On January 3, 2017, Senate Republican leadership released committee assignments for the 115th Congress, and in the process, announced the addition of three new Republican members of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Specifically, Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) have been assigned to the Committee, replacing Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who was reassigned, David Vitter (R-La.), who retired last year, and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who lost his re-election bid. Looking ahead, committee chairs will be selected next week following a vote of the members of each respective committee and then ratified by the Senate Republican Conference.
On January 17, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), announced subcommittee assignments for the 115th Congress. The Senators named to head each subcommittee are listed below:
- Dean Heller of Nevada will be the new chairman of the Securities, Insurance and Investment subcommittee. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia will continue to serve as ranking member.
- Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania will remain chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection subcommittee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will be the new ranking member.
- Tom Cotton of Arkansas will become chairman of the Economic Policy subcommittee. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota will be the new ranking member.
- Ben Sasse of Nebraska will chair the National Security and International Trade and Finance subcommittee. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana will serve as ranking member.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina will continue to chair the Housing, Transportation and Community Development subcommittee. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey will remain ranking member.
On January 3, the CFPB announced the release of its annual report to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations for 2016. The report—which covers October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016—identifies the specific responsibilities that the Dodd-Frank Act tasked to the CFPB and explains how the Bureau has attempted to meet those responsibilities. Among other things, the report describes Bureau regulations and guidance related to the Dodd-Frank Act including, but not limited to: (i) a proposed rule on arbitration; (ii) a proposed rule related to payday loans, vehicle title loans, and other similar credit products; (iii) a final rule to amend various provisions of the mortgage servicing rules implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act; and (iv) a final rule amending Regulation C, implementing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The report also includes descriptions of the Bureau’s supervisory activities and enforcement actions undertaken by in the 2016 fiscal year.
On December 8, Congress passed the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, which now awaits President Obama’s signature. Championed by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the bill gives the President of the United States the authority to deny human rights abusers and corrupt officials entry into the United States or access to our financial institutions. The bipartisan legislation builds on the Russia-specific Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2013 to apply sanctions globally, and makes significant acts of corruption sanctionable offenses.
On December 1, the U.S. Senate, by a 99-0 margin, passed a 10-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) sending the measure to the White House and delaying any potentially tougher actions until next year. Originally approved in 1996, the extended bill passed onto the Senate in November with only one vote against it from the House. Congressional authority to enforce sanctions against Iran—which was due to expire on December 31 if not renewed—will be presented to President Barack Obama, who will decide whether to sign the bill into law in the coming days.