The FDIC refuted a joint statement made by CFPB Director Rohit Chopra and FDIC Board member Martin J. Gruenberg that the FDIC Board had approved a request for information and comment on bank merger transaction rules, guidance and statements. In its statement on the matter, the FDIC said that “there was no valid vote by the Board, and no such request for information and comment has been approved by the agency for publication in the Federal Register.”

Mr. Chopra and Mr. Gruenberg asserted that the purported request for comment “marks the beginning of a careful review of the effectiveness of the existing regulatory framework in meeting the requirements of the Bank Merger Act.” Mr. Chopra and Mr. Gruenberg noted that they were interested in public feedback on whether (i) the financial stability risk requirements under the Bank Merger Act should not just apply to “the very largest Global Systemically Important Banks,” (ii) newly merged institutions, especially those significant in size, should be subject to more stringent minimum standards and (iii) regulatory agencies should consult the CFPB when they assess the convenience and needs of the community affected by a proposed bank merger.

Commentary Daniel Meade

The dueling statements are unusual and do not portend well for constructive interagency action. FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams is in the sometimes awkward position of being the Chair of an FDIC Board on which she is in the minority. Currently, the FDIC Board has three Democrats (or at least three Democratic picks), with Ms. McWilliams being the lone Republican. Ms. McWilliams’ term runs until 2023. As Chair, she still has the power to set the agenda – an important power when faced with being outvoted on a number of issues.