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  • White House targets “junk fees” in higher education with several new initiatives

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 15, the White House issued a fact sheet on proposed measures aimed at curbing or eliminating alleged “junk fees” in higher education, citing that it found college students incurred “billions in fees” when having to pay for services they may not want. The first action the Biden Administration highlighted was a FY 2025 budget proposal that would eliminate student loan origination fees. The White House found that seven million student loan borrowers pay origination fees somewhere between one and four percent of their student loans. The second item the Biden Administration sought to end was college banking “junk fees,” citing a recent report by the CFPB on this issue (covered by InfoBytes here). To address this issue, the Dept. of Education has proposed a rule on college banking products that cannot include harmful fees. Third, the White House supports another proposed rulemaking from the Dept. of Education that would end automatic billing on tuition for textbooks, allowing students to shop around for better prices. Last, the Dept. of Education is considering a rulemaking that would stop colleges from pocketing leftover meal plan “dollars,” and instead will return the balance to students. The Biden Administration noted these were just a few items meant to help student initiatives, including increasing the transparency of college costs and preventing schools from withholding transcripts. These rules will go into effect on July 1.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Junk Fees White House

  • State of the Union Address: President Biden addresses the banking industry

    Federal Issues

    On March 7, President Biden delivered his 2024 State of the Union Address, where he highlighted how his administration is actively working to reduce costs for consumers by addressing issues such as corporate price gouging and alleged “junk fees.” According to a related White House Fact Sheet, the Biden Administration was focusing on corporate practices that may contribute to high prices, urging companies to lower their prices in line with decreasing input costs and stabilize supply chains.  Biden highlighted the CFPB’s proposed rule on overdraft fees and the final rule on credit card late fees as progress in reducing alleged “junk fees.”

    Furthermore, the fact sheet highlighted the CFPB’s scrutiny of alleged practices by branded retailers and airline credit cards of devaluing points and miles and luring in consumers with misleading deferred interest products.

    Federal Issues Junk Fees CFPB Biden White House Credit Cards Consumer Finance

  • White House orders DOJ and CFPB to better protect citizens’ sensitive personal data

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On March 1, the White House released Executive Order 14117 (E.O.) titled “Preventing Access to Americans’ Bulk Sensitive Personal Data and United States Government-Related Data by Countries of Concern” to issue safeguards against Americans’ private information. The E.O. was preceded by the White House’s Fact Sheet which included provisions to protect Americans’ data on their genomic and biometric information, personal health, geolocation, finances, among others. The E.O. shared how this data can be used by nefarious actors such as foreign intelligence services or companies and could enable privacy violations. Under the E.O., President Biden ordered several agencies to act but primarily called on the DOJ. The president directed the DOJ to issue regulations on protecting Americans’ data from being exploited by certain countries. The White House also directed the DOJ to issue regulations to protect government-related data, specifically citing protections for geolocation information and information about military members. Lastly, the DOJ was directed to work with DHS to prevent certain countries’ access to citizens’ data through commercial means and the CFPB was encouraged to “[take] steps, consistent with CFPB’s existing legal authorities, to protect Americans from data brokers that are illegally assembling and selling extremely sensitive data, including that of U.S. military personnel.”

    A few days before, the DOJ released its fact sheet detailing its proposals to implement the White House’s E.O., focusing on national security risks and data security. The fact sheet highlighted that our current laws leave open lawful access to vast amounts of Americans’ sensitive personal data that may be purchased and accessed through commercial relationships. In response to the E.O., the DOJ plans to release future regulations “addressing transactions that involve [Americans’] bulk sensitive data” that pose a risk of access by countries of concern. The countries of concern include China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. The DOJ will also release its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to provide details of the proposal(s) and to solicit comments.

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Federal Issues Department of Justice CFPB Executive Order Department of Homeland Security White House Big Data China Russia Iran North Korea Cuba Venezuela

  • White House provides three-month update on its AI executive order

    Federal Issues

    On January 29, President Biden released a statement detailing how federal agencies have fared in complying with Executive Order 14110 regarding artificial intelligence (AI) development and safety. As previously covered by InfoBytes, President Biden’s Executive Order from October 30, 2023, outlined how the federal government can promote AI safely and in a secure way to protect U.S. citizens’ rights.

    The statement notes that federal agencies have (i) used the Defense Production Act to have AI developers report vital information to the Department of Commerce; (ii) proposed a draft rule for U.S. cloud companies to provide computing power for foreign AI training, and (iii) completed risk assessments for “vital” aspects of society. The statement further outlines how the NSF (iv) managed a pilot program to ensure that AI resources are equitably accessible to the research and education communities; (v) began the EducateAI initiative to create AI educational opportunities in K-12 through undergraduate institutions; (vi) promoted the funding of a new Regional Innovation Engines to assist in creating breakthrough clinical therapies; (vii) the OPM launched the Tech Talent Task Force to accelerate hiring data scientists in the government, and (viii) the DHHS established an AI Task Force to provide “regulatory clarity” in health care. Lastly, the statement provides additional information on various agency activities that have been completed in response to the Executive Order. More on this can be found at

    Federal Issues Biden White House Artificial Intelligence Executive Order

  • President Biden vetoes bill on CFPB small business data rule

    Federal Issues

    On December 19, President Biden vetoed bill S. J. Res. 32 that would have repealed the CFPB’s small business data collection rule known as “Small Business Lending Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (Regulation B).” As previously covered by InfoBytes, the small business data collection rule, under Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, requires small business owners to provide demographic data (i.e., race, gender, ethnicity, etc.), as well as geographic information, lending decisions, and credit pricing to lenders. According to President Biden’s statement accompanying the veto, the CFPB’s final rule brings “transparency to small business lending” and repealing this rule would “hinder” the government’s ability to conduct oversight of predatory lenders. The bill is now to be returned to the Senate to be voted on again and can only become law if two-thirds of members support the bill. Separately, in October, a U.S. District Court in Texas imposed an injunction on the CFPB’s small business data rule (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Federal Issues Executive Order CFPB Section 1071 U.S. Senate White House

  • White House convenes on reducing medical debt

    Federal Issues

    On December 8, President Biden met with over 80 federal and state officials to discuss reducing medical debts for Americans. The Biden-Harris administration desires to address medical payment products, unfair debt collection practices, surprise billing and facility fees, and charity care. This roundtable was one of several actions taken by the administration to lower Americans’ healthcare costs, in addition to (i) the CFPB’s report on how medical debt collectors pursue debts under the FDCPA, such as through misattributed billing and billing consumers without contacting them (previously covered by InfoBytes, here); and (ii) the CFPB’s proposed rule to remove medical bills from credit reports (also previously covered by InfoBytes, here). The roundtable featured speakers from the president’s council, the CFPB, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, DHHS, the Treasury, and representatives from California, Colorado, and Washington.

    Federal Issues White House FDCPA CFPB DHHS Department of Treasury California Colorado Washington

  • President Biden issues Executive Order targeting AI safety

    Federal Issues

    On October 30, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) outlining how the federal government can promote artifical intelligence (AI) safety and security to protect US citizens’ rights by: (i) directing AI developers to share critical information and test results with the U.S. government; (ii) developing standards for safe and secure AI systems; (iii) protecting citizens from AI-enabled fraud; (iv) establishing a cybersecurity program; and (v) creating a National Security Memorandum developed by the National Security Council to address AI security.

    President Biden also called on Congress to act by passing “bipartisan data privacy legislation” that (i) prioritizes federal support for privacy preservation; (ii) strengthens privacy technologies; (iii) evaluates agencies’ information collection processes for AI risks; and (iv) develops guidelines for federal agencies to evaluate privacy-preserving techniques. The EO additionally encourages agencies to use existing authorities to protect consumers and promote equity. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FCC recently proposed to use AI to block unwanted robocalls and texts). The order further outlines how the U.S. can continue acting as a leader in AI innovation by catalyzing AI research, promoting a fair and competitive AI ecosystem, and expanding the highly skilled workforce by streamlining visa review.

    Federal Issues Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security White House Artificial Intelligence Biden Executive Order Consumer Protection

  • Congressional Democrats urge White House to make AI principles mandatory

    Federal Issues

    On October 12, a coalition of more than two dozen Democratic senators and House members urged President Biden to make any anticipated executive order on how the federal government handles artificial intelligence (AI) technology binding on the federal government and those who receive federal funds, and not a mere statement of principles. “By turning the AI Bill of Rights from a non-binding statement of principles into federal policy, your administration would send a clear message to both private actors and federal regulators: AI systems must be developed with guardrails,” the Democrat’s letter states. Additionally, these legislators asked the president to incorporate the White House Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, a voluntary roadmap that identifies five principles intended to guide both the government’s and private companies’ design, use and deployment of automated systems fueled by AI (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Federal Issues Congress White House Artificial Intelligence

  • House approves resolution to reverse OCC’s CRA rule

    Federal Issues

    On June 29, the U.S. House of Representatives approved resolution H.J. 90, along party lines, which would reverse the OCC’s final rule (covered by a Buckley Special Alert) to modernize the regulatory framework implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). As previously covered by InfoBytes, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, Gregory Meeks (D-NY) introduced the resolution, with Waters criticizing the OCC’s decision to move forward with the rule “despite the Federal Reserve and the FDIC—the other regulatory agencies responsible for enforcing CRA—declining to join in the rulemaking.” While the resolution is unlikely to pass the Senate, the White House released a Statement of Administration Policy, which opposes the resolution and states that the President’s advisors will recommend he veto the action.

    Federal Issues House Financial Services Committee CRA Congressional Review Act OCC Agency Rule-Making & Guidance U.S. House White House

  • White House calls for end to GSE conservatorships; Senate holds housing finance hearings

    Federal Issues

    On March 27, the White House released a Memorandum on Federal Housing Finance Reform, which directs the Secretary of the Treasury to develop a plan to end the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs). Specifically, the memo states that the U.S. housing finance system is “in urgent need of reform,” as taxpayers are “potentially exposed to future bailouts” and programs at HUD have outdated operations and are “potentially overexposed to risk.” The President directs the Treasury and HUD to create specific plans addressing a number of reforms “as soon as practical.” Among other things, the directives include:

    • Treasury to reform GSEs. With the ultimate goal of ending the conservatorships, the memo directs Treasury to develop proposals to, among other things, (i) preserve access to 30 year fix-rate mortgages for qualified homebuyers; (ii) establish appropriate capital and liquidity requirements for the GSEs; (iii) increase private sector participation in the mortgage market; (iv) evaluate the “QM Patch” with the HUD Secretary and CFPB Director; and (v) set conditions necessary to end conservatorships.
    • HUD to reform programs. In addition to outlining specific objectives, the memo directs HUD to achieve three goals: (i) ensure that the FHA and the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) assume the primary responsibility for providing housing finance support for low income or underserved families; (ii) improve risk management, program, and product design to reduce taxpayer exposure; and (iii) modernize the operations of the FHA and GNMA.

    Similarly, on March 26 and 27, the Senate Banking Committee held a two-part hearing (here and here) on housing finance reform. The hearing reviewed the legislative plan released by Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) in February. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the plan would, among other things, end the GSEs conservatorships, make the GSEs private guarantors, and allow other nonbank private guarantors to enter the market. Additionally, the plan would (i) restructure FHFA as a bipartisan board of directors, which would charter, regulate, and supervise all private guarantors; (ii) place a percentage cap on all outstanding mortgages for guarantors; and (iii) replace current housing goals and duty-to-serve requirements with a fund intended to address housing needs of underserved communities. In his opening statement at the hearing, Crapo said that, “approximately 70 percent of all mortgages originated in this country are in some way touched by the federal government” and “the status quo is not a viable option” for the housing finance market. Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) emphasized that “any changes we consider must strengthen, not weaken, our ability to address the housing challenges facing our nation and make the housing market work better for families.”

    Over the two days, the Senators and witnesses discussed the positive objectives of Crapo’s plan while recognizing hurdles that exist in implementing housing finance reform. While many Senators and witnesses expressed support for a requirement that private guarantors serve a national market, others suggested that regionalized or specialized guarantors could have advantages, including reaching underserved markets. Many Democrats stressed the importance of keeping a catastrophic government guarantee in place, while Republicans emphasized the need for legislative reforms to be implemented as soon as possible. With respect to equal access for small lenders, Senators discussed the concern over credit unions being able to sell loans in a multiple guarantor market.

    Federal Issues White House Trump Housing Finance Reform GSE Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Affordable Housing FHA HUD Mortgages U.S. Senate Senate Banking Committee

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