It was just two weeks ago that House Republicans partnered with banking industry lobbyists to try to derail new protections for U.S. troops against predatory lenders. Over at the Huffington Post, Zach Carter reported yesterday that GOP lawmakers are, believe it or not, at it again.
To briefly recap, Congress first acted in 2006 to protect military personnel and their families from predatory lenders, creating a 36 percent cap on loans’ interest rates. Lenders quickly found and exploited a loophole in the law, prompting lawmakers to act again in 2012, empowering the Pentagon to close the loopholes. Defense Department officials crafted new safeguards last fall, and the protections are poised to take effect.
Except, of course, the industry, its lobbyists, and many congressional Republicans aren’t happy about it. Two weeks ago, House GOP lawmakers tried to add a provision to the military spending bill that would delay implementing the new rules for at least a year. That effort narrowly failed.
Which brings us to this week’s Round Two.
This week, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) will offer legislation that would block DOD from finalizing its rules until a host of unrealistic technical certifications could be made for a database of active-duty military members. The House will vote on Stivers’ plan as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, a major bill that establishes military funding. […]Stivers has been one of the payday lending industry’s favorite members of Congress since he took office in 2011. Over the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, payday loan companies contributed $69,625 to his campaign, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.Traditional banks have joined with smaller payday loan companies in lobbying against the Defense Department rules, since the new standards would curb profits for so-called “deposit advance products” – small, expensive loans that banks issue to compete with payday lenders.
One might think in a dispute between banking lobbyists and protections for U.S. troops and their families, members of Congress wouldn’t have to think too hard. And yet, here we are.
Remember, when the first effort to delay safeguards came to a vote in committee – at 4 a.m. – the Republican gambit failed on a 32-to-30 vote. In other words, it was very close, and many GOP lawmakers were comfortable siding with the industry.
Don’t be too surprised if Stivers’ plan picks up considerable support from his Republican colleagues, too.
At yesterday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest fielded a question on the policy. It’s almost too difficult to believe that you would have a member of Congress looking to carry water for the payday loan industry and allow them to continue to target in a predatory fashion military families, who, in many cases, are already in a vulnerable financial state,” Earnest said.
“In some cases, we’re talking about military families who have a loved one that’s deployed overseas,” he added. “And as they’re trying to make ends meet, to allow predatory lenders to target them is something that I can’t imagine earning the majority of support in the United States Congress.”
We’ll find out soon enough.