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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Trade associations sue OCC, FDIC, and Federal Reserve on their Proposed Rules for the CRA

Courts OCC FDIC Federal Reserve CRA Administrative Procedure Act

Courts

On February 5, a group of trade, banking, and business associations filed a class-action complaint for injunctive relief against the OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC (the Agencies) for their enforcement of the new rulemaking (the Rule) implementing the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA). The plaintiffs argued that the Rule creates a “wholesale and unlawful change” to a successful fifty-year-old statute. After listing several problems, the plaintiffs requested the Court to “enjoin, hold unlawful, vacate, and set aside” the Rule; additionally, plaintiffs requested the Court declare that the Rule violates the CRA and the Administrative Procedures Act. 

As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Rule was approved by the Agencies on October 24, 2023, published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2024, and would take effect on April 1, 2024. The plaintiffs state that the new regulatory rules are “extraordinarily and unnecessarily complex” since they require a “staggering” 649 pages. (An FDIC Vice Chairman was quoted as labeling the rules as “by far the longest rulemaking the FDIC has ever issued.”) In detail, the plaintiffs support their claims by pointing out the Rule creates different performance tests that differ “radically” from the previous regulatory framework, e.g., the Retail Lending Test is a two-part test, and that each of these tests includes “multiple sub-parts and sub-parts of sub-parts” that create complexity in the Rule. Banks will be given two years (until January 1, 2026) to comply with the Rule. Plaintiffs argue that banks must act immediately, citing the OCC’s own words that the estimated compliance costs are over $90 million during the first year. 

The plaintiffs argue the Rule violates the APA by exceeding the Agencies’ statutory authority by “assessing banks on their responsiveness to credit needs outside of their geographic deposit-taking footprint” (Count I), and by issuing a rule that is arbitrary and capricious by failing to give reasonable notice of the areas and products that will be assessed and the market benchmarks against which performance will be evaluated; failing to conduct an adequate cost benefit analysis; and failing to consider the implications of the Rule (Count II).