Plan to Protect Federal Employee Credit in Shutdown Exits House Committee On Party Line Vote

The House Financial Services Committee voted on Friday to advance a measure that would protect the credit of federal employees impacted by a government shutdown. While the legislation has support in the House, privacy concerns voiced by Republicans could mean the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

The Protecting Innocent Consumers Affected by a Shutdown Act, H.R. 4328, would restrict credit furnishers and consumer credit reporting agencies from including adverse financial information resulting from a government shutdown in the credit profile of government employees, contractors, and others impacted by the shutdown.

“The shutdown directly affected nearly 3 percent of the entire U.S. labor force. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the shutdown cost the American economy $11 billion and delayed approximately $18 billion in discretionary spending for compensation and purchases of goods and services,” Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the author of the bill, told Federal Times.

“To help effected consumers, HR.4328 restricts the persons and companies who provide financial information — known as furnishers — and the credit rating agencies from including adverse financial information resulting from a government shutdown in the effected consumers’ credit profiles for the duration of the shutdown plus 90 days.”

The legislation passed out of the committee on a 32-22 party line vote.

Republicans on the committee reportedly expressed concerns that this legislation would provide additional personal information to credit reporting agencies that are vulnerable to cyber hacks.

“This bill is going to give information to the big three credit reporting agencies, the same big three credit reporting agencies that we criticized back in February on a bipartisan basis, one of which was the source of a breach that exposed the personally identifiable information for more than 100 million consumers… Though the goal of this bill is a laudable one, the way it goes about doing that is quite troublesome,” said Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) in Federal Times.

While this legislation will continue to be debated on the House floor, lawmakers were able to come together to pass another shutdown related piece of legislation coming out of the committee.

The Shutdown Guidance for Financial Institutions Act, H.R. 2290, passed the House by voice vote on Friday.

This legislation would require regulators to issue guidance to encourage financial institutions to take actions necessary to prevent harm to those affected by government shutdowns, consistent with safety and soundness considerations. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Posted in From the Hill

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