Thursday, January 18, 2018 | Today's Vending Industry News
House Passes HR-2706, Dealing Another Blow To Operation Choke Point Impact

Posted On: 12/18/2017

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 Blaine Luetkemeyer
WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. House of Representatives has passed The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2017 (HR-2706). The bill, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, seeks to end some of the persistent effects of Operation Choke Point. Introduced by Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), HR-2706 passed the House 395 to 2.

"NAC thanks the House for taking decisive action to permanently end OCP. Passage of HR-2706, on a virtually unanimous and bipartisan basis, underscores the need to immediately root out and end all lingering effects of OCP, including the ongoing un-American blackballing of entire industries, such as the independent ATM business as well as coin-operated amusement operators, from access to the U.S. banking system," said the National ATM Council's George Sarantopoulos, Access One Solutions (Brooklyn, NY).

Among the key provisions in the bill is that a federal banking agency may not request or order a depository institution to terminate a customer account unless the agency has material reason for doing so and that reason is not based solely on reputation risk. Under OCP, ATM operators and other small businesses that dealt in large sums of cash were profiled as suspicious by some federal agencies without the benefit of an inquiry or evidence of wrongdoing. As a consequence, many of these businesses were unable to open or maintain bank accounts.

"Over the past several years, I have led the effort to combat Operation Choke Point, the Department of Justice and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-led initiative that sought to cut off legal businesses from the financial services they need to survive," Luetkemeyer said. "It is simple: the federal government should not be able to intimidate financial institutions into dropping entire sectors of the economy as customers, based not on risk or evidence of wrongdoing, but purely on personal and political motivations. I thank Chairman Hensarling for ensuring this legislation was brought to the House floor and my colleagues for putting an end to this dangerous precedent."

Although the bill may not completely eliminate the impact of OCP, industry experts see it as a significant step in the right direction and are hopeful it will pass the U.S. Senate in short order.

"NAC commends the House action and we will now be working to urge prompt passage of HR-2706 by the U.S. Senate," said Bruce Renard, NAC's executive director. "In the process, we will continue our ongoing outreach to Congress, bank regulators and financial institutions to ensure that the end of OCP truly means restoring reasonable access to bank accounts for America's independent ATM providers. Such access is essential for these companies to continue providing convenient access to cash for urban and rural communities throughout America."