Lankford Seeks to Prevent Discrimination of Legal Businesses by Banks

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today joined Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) to introduce 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, which Lankford supported.

“Trying to ‘cancel’ certain legal industries, like energy companies or gun manufactures, by pressuring lenders not to loan them money is boycott by cancelling,” said Lankford. “Banks should look at a company’s credit history and other financials when considering loaning them money, not whether they agree with them or use their services. Banks operate on well-established lending practices, not bias. This bill makes sure we continue to protect a neutral playing field for everyone in our nation, not just businesses that push a progressive agenda.”

“Fairness matters,” said 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:

  • Penalize banks and credit unions with over $10 billion in total consolidated assets, or their subsidiaries, if they refuse to do business with any legally-compliant person who meets the criteria described above;
  • Prevent payment card networks from discriminating against any qualified and legally-compliant person because of political or reputational considerations;
  • Codify the core requirements found in the Trump Administration’s Fair Access Final Rule;
  • Require qualified banks to provide written justification for why they are denying a person financial services; and
  • Punish providers who fail to comply with the law by disqualifying them from using discount window lending programs, terminating their status as an insured depository institution or insured credit union, or imposing a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

Some of the largest United States banks 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.

Lankford and Cramer are joined on the bill by more than one-quarter of the Senate, including 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), 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).