WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a Senate Banking Committee member, led his colleagues in introducing the “Fair Access to Banking Act” today, a bill to prevent discrimination by banks and financial service providers against constitutionally-protected industries and law-abiding businesses. The bill builds off the Trump Administration’s Fair Access Rule and expands on legislation Senator Cramer introduced last Congress.
“Fairness matters,” said Senator Cramer. “There is no place in our society for discrimination, and big banks are no exception. Financial service providers do not have the right to circumvent the Constitution or the law to create de-facto bans on legally-compliant businesses like energy producers or firearms manufacturers when they believe it is politically convenient. Our legislation makes it illegal to do so and imposes serious consequences on those who choose to violate the law.”
As stated in the legislation, the purpose of the Fair Access to Banking Act is to protect fair access to financial services and to ensure banks operate in a safe and sound manner, basing their judgements and decisions on impartial, individualized risk-based analysis developed through empirical data and evaluated under quantifiable standards. If enacted, this bill would:
The need for Senator Cramer’s legislation is driven by the recent actions of some of the largest United States banks who are using their economic standing to discriminate against energy producers. Last year, five of the country’s largest banks announced they will not provide loans or credit to support oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge even though Congress explicitly authorized it. In the fall, JP Morgan Chase declared it would refuse financial services to coal producers, and Bank of America began a politically-motivated effort to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its financing activities by 2050, an effort directly targeting producers of reliable American energy. Discrimination by financial service providers also extends to industries protected by the Second Amendment, with banks like Capital One including “ammunitions, firearms, or firearm parts” in its prohibited payments section, and payment services like Apple Pay and PayPal denying their services for transactions involving firearms or ammunition.
In response to these developments, the Trump Administration created the Fair Access Rule – which Senator Cramer helped craft and is codified in this legislation – to prevent these examples and other acts of discrimination, but the rule’s implementation has since been paused under President Biden. Today’s legislation also expands on the Freedom Financing Act, which was one of the first bills Senator Cramer introduced when he joined the Senate in 2019.
Senator Cramer’s Fair Access to Banking Act is joined on this bill by over one-fourth of the Senate, with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Kennedy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Rick Scott (R-FL), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Hoeven (R-ND), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Josh Hawley (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), James Lankford (R-OK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), James Risch (R-ID), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Deb Fischer (R-NE) joining as original cosponsors.
The bill has a wide array of industry support as well, including endorsements from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), National Rifle Association (NRA), Kentucky Coal Association, Lignite Energy Council, National Mining Association, Amusement and Music Operators Association, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, and the Day 1 Alliance.