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house Bill H.R. 2706

Protecting Bank Customers from "Operation Choke Point" — Unless They’re Linked to Terrorism

Argument in favor

This bill would put a stop to the abuse of legitimate business owners under Operation Choke Point, while still allowing regulators and banks to cut off accounts that they believe are linked to funding terrorist activities. That’s an appropriate balance.

Casey's Opinion
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12/11/2017
Choke Point is notorious. It's abuses FAR outnumber it's service to the people.
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Eric's Opinion
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12/11/2017
Choke Point is an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government. It totally violates our rights as US citizens to due process. This is is totally unacceptable.
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reginaw's Opinion
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12/11/2017
Consumer protections. What more can we ask of our Federal government.
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Argument opposed

The Obama administration and the DOJ are right to target businesses that they view as being at high risk for fraud or money laundering. These reforms would impede investigations into those activities unless there’s a connection to terrorism.

OlderNWiser's Opinion
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12/11/2017
Who does money laundering? Is it the small business in my small town? Or is it the super wealthy—perhaps the one in the White House said to be associated with the mafia? We need every protection possible from my perspective.
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Erin's Opinion
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12/11/2017
No. Why is this administration hell bent on repealing or removing every Obama-era regulation or law. This is a bill out of spite. Grow up and start doing your jobs and stop with all this petty bull.
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Thelma's Opinion
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12/11/2017
Please vote no. We need to be able to investigate businesses at risk for money laundering. Voting for this pretty much tells me that you, as a legislator, may want access to such banks. It does not tell me you are interested in our country. People before businesses, please.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
  • The house Passed December 11th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 394 Yea / 2 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Financial Services
    IntroducedMay 25th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 2706?

This bill seeks to protect bank customers that otherwise might have had their accounts targeted by Operation Choke Point by preventing federal banking regulators from forcing the termination of a business' account because of its "reputational risk". Operation Choke Point was an Obama era initiative launched by the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) in 2013 to target businesses suspected of fraud and money laundering activities. The program was criticized for targeting legitimate businesses and was ended by the Trump administration in August 2017, but could be re-instated under current law. This bill aims to block that from happening. 

Federal banking agencies would be prohibited from formally or informally suggesting or ordering a depository institution (like a bank or credit union) to terminate a customer's accounts, groups of accounts, or restricting relationships with groups of customers unless:

  • The agency has a material reason to do so;

  • The reason is not based solely on reputation risk related to that customer or group of customers.

The “material reason” criterion would be satisfied if a federal banking agency believes that customer or group of customers in question poses a threat to national security, including involvement in terrorist financing.

Federal banking agencies would be required to notify the depository institution about a customer’s account restriction or termination — but wouldn't have to notify the customer. Any notice to the customer would be prohibited if the federal banking agency requests or orders the termination or restriction of a customer account if the customer is believed to be a threat to national security.

This bill also revises requirements for summoning witnesses and requiring the production of books or other records deemed relevant by the Attorney General for a civil investigation that may result in civil penalties for specified violations.

Impact

Individuals and businesses whose bank accounts might have been scrutinized due to Operation Choke Point, financial institutions, federal banking agencies, and the DOJ.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2706

The CBO estimates that this bill would cause no change in federal spending.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced this bill to make changes made by the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (FDIC) aimed at preventing legitimate customers from having their bank accounts cut off due to Operation Choke Point into law:

“Last Congress, the House of Representatives took the first step in putting an end, once and for all, to Operation Choke Point by passing my legislation. Although there is a new Administration and Department of Justice in place, this legislation is necessary to ensure that no future Administration will have the opportunity to negatively impact individuals and legal businesses through this unprecedented initiative. We must continue to demand greater transparency and end the practice of allowing government bureaucrats to use personal and political motivations to block financial services to licensed, legally-operating businesses.”

The FDIC admitted that legitimate businesses had been wrongly targeted under Operation Choke Point in January 2015. Among the types of businesses targeted by the DOJ and FDIC operation are firearm and ammunition dealers, pawn stores, cigar shops, and payday lenders. It was formally ended by the Trump administration's DOJ in August 2017, but Congress hasn't moved to prevent those policies from being re-imposed in the future by the DOJ in a different guise.

This bill was passed by the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 59-1, and currently has 19 cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans. During the last Congress this legislation passed the House on a 250-169 vote but didn't receive a vote in the Senate.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Steve A Johnson)

AKA

Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2017

Official Title

To provide requirements for the appropriate Federal banking agencies when requesting or ordering a depository institution to terminate a specific customer account, to provide for additional requirements related to subpoenas issued under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, and for other purposes.

    Choke Point is notorious. It's abuses FAR outnumber it's service to the people.
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    Who does money laundering? Is it the small business in my small town? Or is it the super wealthy—perhaps the one in the White House said to be associated with the mafia? We need every protection possible from my perspective.
    Like (99)
    Follow
    Share
    No. Why is this administration hell bent on repealing or removing every Obama-era regulation or law. This is a bill out of spite. Grow up and start doing your jobs and stop with all this petty bull.
    Like (77)
    Follow
    Share
    Please vote no. We need to be able to investigate businesses at risk for money laundering. Voting for this pretty much tells me that you, as a legislator, may want access to such banks. It does not tell me you are interested in our country. People before businesses, please.
    Like (40)
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    The law to make it easier for the DOJ to stop money laundering is all good to me. I don’t believe the Republicans when they say that legitimate businesses are targeted. Payday lenders are notorious for getting access to customers bank accounts and then using electronic debits to drain money from that account. It often ends up in the hands of terrorists. We must not make it harder for the DOJ to bust money launderers or those ripping off Americans who are taking out payday and car title loans. I think that this is political. Note that one of Trumps biggest supporters is Allan Jones CEO of Check Into Cash.
    Like (19)
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    So far, if Obama put it in, it was to protect the American people. If trump or the republican are for it, it to hose the American people! Fox opinion news and fox and opinion friends would like you to believe differently with their fake news media brainwash.
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    THE TRAITORS WANT TO MAKE IT EASIER TO LAUNDER THEIR PAYOFFS FROM THE RUSSIANS WITH THIS BILL VOTE NAY !! SAVE OUR UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FROM BEING SACKED BY RUSSIA !!!
    Like (11)
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    Choke Point is an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government. It totally violates our rights as US citizens to due process. This is is totally unacceptable.
    Like (10)
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    No this is another attempt for Trump to end anything Obama era put in place.
    Like (9)
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    Consumer protections. What more can we ask of our Federal government.
    Like (8)
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    Stip destroying consumer protection.
    Like (8)
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    Stop with the idiotic comments about the president. You have accused him of everything and anything out of blind hatred. For your information this issue has been debated since Holder went behind congress’s back to destroy the second amendment. And, if Obama hadn’t tried to go against the people on this issue this would have been totally unnecessary. 😐
    Like (6)
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    NO!!!! Why is this administration and GOP constantly bringing up bills that will make our country unsafe & that will do harm to the country & the people. This law makes the financial institutions responsible if they are involved in money laundering and/or putting extra pressure on regular people like Check Cashing or title Loan places. This is a regulation that is needed to aid the people.
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    When we talk about “bank customers” we’re talking about businesses with some of the sketchiest services that you can find out there like payday lending, get rich schemes, and escort services. These businesses should be put under more scrutiny. What this legislation will do is likely put our banking system at greater risk for money laundering and other illegal practices. The program should stay.
    Like (4)
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    Just because Obama was involved doesn’t make it inherently bad. I would rather my representatives focus on helping the American people and not help large corporations get away with laundering money.
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    Helping who? If you’re legit don’t worry.
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    Yet another anti-people pro-corporation garbage bill from the Republicans. This REMOVES protections for consumers and increases risk. The wrong direction. Please vote no on this bill.
    Like (4)
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    Yet another horrific bill made to make it easier for big corporations to get away with screwing us over. Please, please vote no!
    Like (4)
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    How does this reversal of law protect the average consumer from business under investigation?
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    Another Republican payoff.
    Like (3)
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