U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer, a Senate Banking Committee member, led a group of 19 senators urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza to protect Second Amendment-related industries from discrimination by financial institutions.
“Several of the nation’s systemically important financial institutions use their market dominance to financially discriminate against legal and compliant businesses for political reasons. This includes the firearms and ammunition industries,” the senators wrote. “A vocal but small minority has weaponized federally-backed banks against politically disfavored businesses that operate in good faith and compliance with the law, by denying them financial services based on political reasons that have nothing to do with creditworthiness.”
Senator Cramer was joined on the letter by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mike Lee (R-UT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY). John Hoeven (R-ND), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Mike Braun (R-IN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and John Thune (R-SD). The senators also received support from industry leaders.
"Financial institutions are using exclusionary politics to attack the Second Amendment and discriminate against law-abiding firearm businesses,” said National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Jason Ouimet. “We thank Senator Cramer and his colleagues for their leadership on this important issue.”
“Lawful, compliant and in some cases, Constitutionally-protected industries have been the subject of discriminatory policies enacted by big businesses in the marketing, communications, internet service and financial services sectors for years,” said NSSF General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Government & Public Affairs Lawrence G. Keane. “Corporate leaders projecting their biases through discriminatory policies are now attempting to use a global pandemic to advance their strategy of shutting down businesses that they find objectionable. We applaud the efforts of Senator Cramer and his colleagues to ensure that taxpayer money intended to keep hard working Americans afloat is not used to put people in certain industries out of work.”
In the letter, the senators ask SBA to clarify:
- What efforts have SBA and the Administration made to ensure the nation’s largest financial institutions approve and distribute Paycheck Protection Program and other SBA disaster relief funds in a prioritized and unbiased manner?
- How has SBA and the Administration communicated to large financial institutions that current SBA 7a Loan Program eligibility regulations are to be strictly adhered to?
- How does SBA and the Administration address potential conflicts between social governance responsibility commitments of financial institutions which violate or contradict SBA loan program eligibility regulations?
“We find it extremely disconcerting that, while the vast majority of SBA program lenders do not promote financial discrimination policies, many of the nation’s largest institutions currently do,” the senators concluded.