Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation to Fight Discrimination from Financial Institutions

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined colleagues to reintroduce legislation that prohibits banks and other financial institutions from discriminating in Oregon and nationwide on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

“It’s appalling that in the 21st century, Americans still experience discrimination while opening a bank account, applying for a mortgage, or simply setting foot inside a bank,” Wyden said. “The Fair Access to Financial Services Act will hold financial institutions accountable for their discriminatory actions and I am committed to getting this piece of legislation signed into law.”

“It’s outrageous that in 2022 Americans are still facing discrimination in financial services,” Merkley said. “We know that financial institutions have engaged in racial profiling in everything from standing in a bank to mass denial of home refinancing applications only for Black applicants. The clear lack of equity for who can access full banking services is yet another contributor to wealth inequality in America. I will continue to work hard to get this legislation passed into law and protect all Americans from discrimination accessing banking services and in every area of their lives.”

The Fair Access to Financial Services Act will ensure that all people receive equal treatment when trying to have access to services at financial institutions, and hold these institutions accountable for discriminatory practices.

Many of the nation’s largest banks have come under fire recently for racial profiling and other discriminatory practices. JP Morgan Chase Bank is being sued for refusing to open a bank account for a Black customer late last year. Bank of America recently apologized to film director Ryan Coogler after wrongfully assuming he was a bank robber. Wells Fargo came under scrutiny earlier this year for denying more than half of all Black refinancing applicants in 2020.

The legislation was led by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Alongside Wyden and Merkley, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M.

The bill has been endorsed by the National Urban League, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, UnidosUS, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The bill text can be found here.

A one pager of the bill is here.