By KIM JARRETT
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., reintroduced the Fair Access to Bank Act to combat what he called the “weaponization of the financial system.”
According to the bill, banks and credit unions with assets over $10 billion would face penalties of up to $10,000 per violation for refusing to do business with legally-compliant businesses. The financial institution could also lose its status as an insured depository institution or insured credit union.
“There is no place in our society for discrimination, and big banks and financial institutions are no exception,” Sen. Cramer said in a statement. “The Biden administration and their liberal base are weaponizing the financial system to defund, debank, or discredit industries they do not like. It is fundamentally unfair.”
The senator cited Citigroup’s refusal to fund coal projects. Citigroup declined to comment when contacted by The Center Square.
Executives from several industries are praising the bill.
“This bill gives our producers the ability to provide affordable, reliable, and secure American energy resources to our country and the world,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, in a statement provided by Sen. Cramer’s office. “The oil and natural gas industry needs fair and non-discriminatory access to capital.”
Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, said the bill would end “‘woke’ financial discrimination.”
“For too long, banking institutions have arbitrarily denied services to legal and constitutionally-protected businesses such as those in the firearm industry, to advance a politically-driven agenda that would deny critical financial services to the industry that provides the means for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Mr. Keane said.
Thirty-six senators from 22 states have signed on to the bill.
“Financial institutions should extend credit and offer services based on sound underwriting, risk and reward – not political beliefs,” said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark, in a statement. “The Fair Access to Banking Act would prevent this biased practice and hold banks and credit unions accountable for failure to comply.”