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house Bill H.R. 766

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.

Victor's Opinion
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02/01/2016
This is an area that has already been abused by the Federal government. We need to keep politics separate from law enforcement.
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bhiguma's Opinion
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02/02/2016
Operation Choke Point has been used to attack legitimate businesses. This legislation is a step in the right direction in terms of fixing that problem.
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Xavier's Opinion
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01/28/2016
Operation Chokepoint has been shown to target gun stores who were simply exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.
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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.

Alis's Opinion
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01/30/2016
This sounds suspiciously like a favor to a Member's friend who would like to enter into a shady enterprise & fears Operating Choke Point will stop it. I cannot envision any scenario in which this legislation is necessary. Should it become an issue of national security, I'm certain it can be dealt with at that time. Now, perhaps, you could do something useful--like immigration reform or debate what we do about ISIS! Just saying...are you guys bored?
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StratonGarrard's Opinion
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01/31/2016
We must ensure that Big Bank and Big Corp are playing by the same rules as the rest of us. To do otherwise is to support dark money transfers and fraud. Do we really want another Madoff?
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Kevin's Opinion
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02/04/2016
We need the tools to investigate bank and financial crimes
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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 February 4th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 250 Yea / 169 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Financial Services
      Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions
    IntroducedFebruary 5th, 2015

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What is House Bill H.R. 766?

This bill seeks to protect bank customers that otherwise might have had their accounts targeted by Operation Choke Point. However, if the federal government has reason to believe a customer is linked to financing terrorism, they would still be at the mercy of OPC. 

Operation Choke Point was an initiative launched by the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) in 2013 to target businesses suspected of fraud and money laundering activities. The program has been criticized for targeting and harming legitimate businesses.

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 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. 766

$0.00
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:

“While steps have been made in the case against Operation Choke Point, there is still a need for my legislation to be reintroduced in this Congress. While I am pleased the FDIC is implementing parts of my legislation, it is not enough. I am reintroducing the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act because this legislation needs to be codified into law so that other agencies don’t ever fall into this illegal and abusive practice. Now that the FDIC has made it clear the agency has been involved in Operation Choke Point, I hope members on both sides of the aisle see the importance of my legislation because all of my colleagues have constituents at home who could be impacted by this program.”

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.

This bill was passed by the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 35-19, and currently has 30 cosponsors in the House, all but three of whom are Republicans.


Media:

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

AKA

Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2016

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.

    This is an area that has already been abused by the Federal government. We need to keep politics separate from law enforcement.
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    This sounds suspiciously like a favor to a Member's friend who would like to enter into a shady enterprise & fears Operating Choke Point will stop it. I cannot envision any scenario in which this legislation is necessary. Should it become an issue of national security, I'm certain it can be dealt with at that time. Now, perhaps, you could do something useful--like immigration reform or debate what we do about ISIS! Just saying...are you guys bored?
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    Yes, we need less scrutiny, not more.
    Like (9)
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    We must ensure that Big Bank and Big Corp are playing by the same rules as the rest of us. To do otherwise is to support dark money transfers and fraud. Do we really want another Madoff?
    Like (8)
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    Operation Choke Point has been used to attack legitimate businesses. This legislation is a step in the right direction in terms of fixing that problem.
    Like (8)
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    Operation Chokepoint has been shown to target gun stores who were simply exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.
    Like (4)
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    operation chokepoint should not impact legal gun owners and vendors.
    Like (3)
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    Working as a bank teller, I've seen how the increased scrutiny effects how we serve our clients as well as how much extra documentation is required to be kept by bank staff.
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    We need the tools to investigate bank and financial crimes
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    Why protect fraud? That's just dumb.
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    I was under the impression that financial institutions already monitored, policed & reported financial activities that seemed even-remotely-suspicious. Apparently, as best as I can tell, either this wasn't successful enough or some legislation had expired / been repealed. So, Operation Choke Point (OCP) was created to combat terrorism & other criminal enterprises by restricting avenues that are often exploited to acquire & launder funds (as well as enabling other fraudulent activities). In theory, it could've been a fairly successful way to curtail terrorist activities by, essentially, defunding them. Unfortunately, OCP was zealously misused & it became a weapon of someone's morality. So, to prevent an egregious misuse from occurring again, certain protections need to be enacted. (To know more about this snafu, read "Key Findings" in the report from the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform here: http://1.usa.gov/20FDlr7 .)
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    "Among the types of businesses targeted by the DOJ and FDIC operation are firearm and ammunition dealers, pawn stores, cigar shops, and payday lenders." Although I dislike most of these types of businesses, illegally cutting off their ability to make money by misuse of a counter terrorism bill is bs!
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    Porn is not terrorism last I checked. This is ridiculous abuse of legislation and needs to be fixed
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    President Obama and democrats have abused this operation in order to punish American businesses they don't like such as gun dealers. This op needs to go after terrorists only. Stop Obama's unconstitutional attacks on legitimate businesses.
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    This security measure is to help stop the clandestine movement of money by terrorists. Something they are very practiced at. Hawala is a bartering system that's been around since long before there was an America. They've had a lot of practice so they're good at it. This is in place to try and prevent a sleeper cell from getting the money to buy guns and explosives to cause a tragedy here like they did in Paris. So if some businessmen are inconvenienced buy the slow down in their cash flow to bad, you'll live to spend it.
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    So the Democrats are bad, but drug cartels, gangs, terrorists groups, and mafia style groups are good? Give me a fucking break.
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    The govt should prove (beyond reasonabke doubt) that someone is involved in terrorism before attacking their financials. If it can be shown, though, the govt should also go at them with everything
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    Whatever happened to "innocent before being proven guilty" - the very existence of laws like "Operation Choke Point" is proof we are becoming a nation not of laws but of government thugs. Get a warrant, make an arrest, go to court and prove your case before confiscating property or denying access.
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    Absolutely, but the bill itself doesn't address the issue that this should not be done to anyone without a court order. Banks have no business knowing where money comes from or where it goes to.
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    What happened to innocent until proven guilty. Add the DOJ to the list of government entities that don't appear to have to answer to anyone; the IRS is still president of that club.
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