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  • Biden announces key nominations

    Federal Issues

    On June 24, President Biden announced his intent to nominate seven individuals to serve in key roles, including two nominations to positions in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Among them is Dave Uejio, the current acting Director of the CFPB, as the nominee for Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development. As previously covered by Infobytes, Uejio has been with the CFPB since 2012, and from 2015 to his appointment as acting director to replace Kathy Kraninger, he served as the Bureau’s Chief Strategy Officer. According to the announcement, Uejio also co-chairs the Federal Innovation Council, “a leading federal government interagency body [driving] public sector innovation.” In January, President Biden officially nominated FTC Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra as the permanent director of the CFPB (covered by InfoBytes here). He is currently awaiting a Senate confirmation vote on his nomination to serve as the Bureau’s Director. President Biden also announced Julia Gordon, who is the National Community Stabilization Trust President, as the nominee for Assistant Secretary for Housing, Federal Housing Commissioner, Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Federal Issues Biden CFPB HUD FTC

  • Juneteenth creates compliance challenges for mortgage industry

    Federal Issues

    On June 17, President Biden signed S. 475 establishing June 19, Juneteenth, as a federal holiday. The “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” amends 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a) which codifies the legal public holidays. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the holiday will be observed on Friday, June 18.

    The establishment of a new federal holiday mere hours before the first observance of that holiday poses novel compliance challenges for the mortgage industry. Notably, both TRID and TILA rescission requirements have important timing standards that reference federal holidays.

    TRID

    Under TRID, the Loan Estimate must be provided to the consumer at least seven business days prior to consummation, and the Closing Disclosure must be provided to the consumer at least three business days prior to consummation. For purposes of these requirements, “business day” is defined as “all calendar days except Sundays and legal public holidays” as specified in 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a). As the holiday occurs on a Saturday this year, Saturday, June 19 is not a “business day” for purposes of calculating either the 7-business day waiting period after delivery of the Loan Estimate or the 3-business-day waiting period after delivery of the Closing Disclosure. Commentary to Regulation Z also states that, for purposes of rescission and the provision of mortgage disclosures, when a federal holiday falls on a Saturday but is observed on the preceding Friday, the observed holiday is a business day.

    Accordingly, for purposes of providing the Loan Estimate at least seven business days prior to closing and the Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing, lenders may not count Saturday, June 19, as a business day, but must count Friday, June 18, as a business day. Absent clarification from the CFPB, lenders are advised to push closings back one day where they were previously counting Saturday (June 19) as a business day. For example, if a Closing Disclosure was received by the consumer on Thursday, June 17, closing may not occur until Tuesday, June 22.  

    Rescission

    A rescission period expires on midnight on the third business day after closing and uses the same definition of business days, which is “all calendar days except Sundays and legal public holidays.” As such, Saturday, June 19 this year is not a “business day” for purposes of the 3-business day rescission period and lenders should ensure that consumers are provided an extra day where the rescission period encompasses June 19, and are made aware of that extension. This raises unique funding and Notice of Right to Cancel disclosure related questions, the answers to which may depend on individual facts and circumstances. Absent further guidance from the CFPB, creditors may wish to delay closing by one day for those transactions where the three-day Closing Disclosure period is relevant, as well as consider providing updated Notices of Right to Cancel with a new rescission period taking into account both the new public holiday and when such new notice is sent.

    On June 18, CFPB acting Director Dave Uejio issued a statement recognizing that "some lenders did not have sufficient time after the Federal holiday declaration to consider whether and how to adjust closing timelines" and that "some lenders may delay closings to accommodate the reissuance of disclosures adjusted for the new Federal holiday." Uejio further noted that "TILA and TRID requirements generally protect creditors from liability for bona fide errors and permit redisclosure after closing to correct errors." He added that any guidance ultimately issued by the Bureau "would take into account the limited implementation period before the holiday and would be issued after consultation with the other FIRREA regulators and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to ensure consistency of interpretation for all regulated entities."

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation Biden TRID CFPB TILA Disclosures Mortgages Consumer Finance

  • President Biden issues executive order blocking U.S. entry by some persons connected to the Western Balkans

    Financial Crimes

    On June 8, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) on “Blocking Property And Suspending Entry Into The United States Of Certain Persons Contributing To The Destabilizing Situation In The Western Balkans.” According to the E.O., expanding the scope will address the national emergency declared in E.O. 13219, “including the undermining of post-war agreements and institutions following the breakup of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as widespread corruption within various governments and institutions in the Western Balkans, stymies progress toward effective and democratic governance and full integration into transatlantic institutions, and thereby constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The E.O blocks property and interests in property that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of certain persons who meet one or more of the criteria set forth in the order, including those who are determined, among other things: (i) “to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of any area or state in the Western Balkans”; (ii) “to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the Western Balkans”; or (iii) “to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.” Additionally, the Treasury Secretary is authorized to take actions, including promulgating rules and regulations, to carry out the purposes of the E.O.

    Financial Crimes OFAC OFAC Designations Sanctions Biden Department of Treasury Of Interest to Non-US Persons

  • President Biden issues executive order prohibiting securities investments in Chinese military companies

    Financial Crimes

    On June 3, President Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 14032, “Addressing the Threat from Securities Investments that Finance Communist Chinese Military Companies.” The E.O. takes additional steps pursuant to the national emergency declared pursuant to E.O. 13959 (covered by Infobytes here), including the threat posed by the military-industrial complex of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and “its involvement in military, intelligence, and security research and development programs, and weapons and related equipment production under the PRC’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy.” The E.O. generally prohibits U.S. persons from “the purchase or sale of any publicly traded securities, or any securities that are derivative of such securities, or are designed to provide investment exposure to such securities, of” any listed Chinese military company. The E.O. also establishes the deadlines for divestment of investments in companies currently listed as Chinese military companies as well as companies that later may be added to the list of Chinese military.

    Among other things, the prohibitions apply “except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and not withstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted before the date of the order.” The E.O. also prohibits any transactions by U.S. persons or within the U.S. that evade or avoid, have the purpose of evading or avoiding, cause a violation of, or attempt to violate the provisions set forth in the order, as well as any conspiracy to violate any of these prohibitions. Additionally, the Treasury Secretary—after consulting with heads of other executive departments as deemed appropriate—is authorized to take actions, including promulgating rules and regulations, to carry out the purposes of the E.O.

    OFAC also published eight new FAQs and seven updated FAQs regarding the new E.O. In addition, several names and entities have been added to OFAC’s Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies List.

     

    Financial Crimes OFAC OFAC Designations Sanctions Biden Department of Treasury China Of Interest to Non-US Persons SDN List

  • Biden national security memo takes on corruption

    Federal Issues

    On June 3, President Biden issued a memo designating the “fight against corruption” as a top priority in preserving national security in the United States. The memo notes, among other things, that corruption not only corrodes public trust and development efforts, it also decreases global gross domestic product by an estimated two to five percent. In establishing “countering corruption as a core United States national security interest,” the memo highlights that the Biden administration will “lead efforts to promote good governance; bring transparency to the United States and global financial systems; prevent and combat corruption at home and abroad; and make it increasingly difficult for corrupt actors to shield their activities.” This includes efforts that will significantly bolster the ability of the U.S. government to, among other things: (i) boost the ability of key executive departments and agencies to encourage fair governance; (ii) counter illicit finance in the U.S. and foreign financial systems; (iii) hold corrupt individuals accountable; (iv) “strengthen the capacity of civil society, media, and other oversight and accountability actors to conduct research and analysis on corruption trends”; (v) coordinate with international partners to counteract strategic corruption; and (vi) encourage partnerships with the private sector and civil society. The memo further points out that an interagency review must take place within 200 days of the date of the memo, and a report and recommendations will be submitted to the president for further direction and action.

    Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Biden Corruption Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons

  • Biden orders regulators to evaluate, mitigate climate-related financial risks

    Federal Issues

    On May 20, President Biden ordered financial regulators to take steps to mitigate climate-related risk related to the financial system. The executive order, among other things, directs the Secretary of the Treasury to work with Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) members to consider “assessing, in a detailed and comprehensive manner, the climate-related financial risk . . . to the financial stability of the federal government and the stability of the U.S. financial system,” and to facilitate climate-related risk information sharing between FSOC member agencies and other federal departments and agencies. Under the executive order, Treasury is also required to issue a report to the president within 180 days on current efforts taken by FSOC members to incorporate climate-related financial risk into their policies and programs. The executive order directs the report to include recommendations on (i) “actions to enhance climate-related disclosures by regulated entities to mitigate climate-related financial risk”; (ii) current approaches for incorporating climate-related financial risk considerations into regulatory and supervisory activities, as well as a discussion of any impediments faced when adopting these approaches; (iii) processes for identifying climate-related financial risks; and (iv) how “identified climate-related financial risks can be mitigated, including through new or revised regulatory standards as appropriate.” The executive order also states, among other things, that federal financial management and reporting should be modernized to incorporate climate-related financial risk, especially risk related to federal lending programs.

    Federal Issues Biden Department of Treasury FSOC Climate-Related Financial Risks

  • Biden administration to reinstate fair housing rules

    Federal Issues

    On April 12, the Office of Management and Budget posted notices pending regulatory review related to two HUD fair housing rules rescinded under the Trump administration. The first notice announces a pending proposed rule to reinstate HUD’s Discriminatory Effects Standard related to a September 2020 final rule issued by the agency, which amended its interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s 2013 disparate impact standard. As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the final rule was intended to align HUD’s 2013 Rule with the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. The final rule included, among other things, a modification of the three-step burden-shifting framework in its 2013 Rule, several new elements that plaintiffs must show to establish that a policy or practice has a “discriminatory effect,” and specific defenses that defendants can assert to refute disparate impact claims. Earlier in January, President Biden directed HUD to examine the effects of the final rule, emphasizing that HUD has a “statutory duty to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act.” (Covered by InfoBytes here.)

    The second notice relates to a pending interim final rule: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing; Restoring Statutory Definitions and Certifications. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last July HUD announced plans to terminate the 2015 version of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, and proposed a new final rule titled “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.” At the time, HUD stated that the AFFH rule was, among other things, overly burdensome, costly, and ineffective.

     

    Federal Issues HUD Biden Fair Housing Disparate Impact Fair Housing Act Fair Lending

  • Biden extends Covid-19 regulatory relief

    Federal Issues

    On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act), which will, among other things, extend certain emergency authorities and temporary regulatory relief contained in the CARES Act to address the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under a section titled, “Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship,” the Act will provide an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), extend the eligibility of certain nonprofit entities for covered loans under the PPP, and amend certain aspects of the program allowing for certain businesses to take second loans. However, the Act does not actually extend the PPP, which is currently set to expire on March 31 (covered by InfoBytes here). The Act also allocates nearly $10 billion through the Homeowner Assistance Fund to allow eligible entities to provide direct assistance for mortgage payments, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs to help prevent delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures. Moreover, a provision related to fair housing activities provides $20 million “to ensure fair housing organizations have additional resources to address fair housing inquiries, complaints, investigations, and education and outreach activities, and costs of delivering or adapting services, during or relating to the coronavirus pandemic.” Additionally, the Act provides $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments, including $5 billion for supplemental targeted EIDL advance payments for the hardest hit.

    In addition to providing Covid-19 relief, the Act also includes, among other things, a section that modifies the treatment of student loan forgiveness. Specifically, Section 9675 will exclude from gross income any amount of student loan debt that is modified or discharged (in whole or in part) after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2026. The tax exemption will include federal, private, and institutional loans. According to a press release issued by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the provision is intended to “ensur[e] borrowers whose debt is fully or partially forgiven are not saddled with thousands of dollars in surprise taxes.”

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation Covid-19 Biden CARES Act SBA EIDL Student Lending American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

  • Biden announces measures to ensure PPP loan access to "mom and pop" businesses

    Federal Issues

    On February 22, the Biden administration announced measures to ensure the smallest businesses have access to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. (See also SBA press release here.) Specifically, the Biden administration has directed the Small Business Administration (SBA) to (i) provide an exclusive 14-day application window, starting Wednesday, February 24, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees are eligible to apply; (ii) set aside $1 billion for PPP loans for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals in low- and moderate-income areas, and revise the loan calculation formula for these applicants to offer more relief; (iii) eliminate an exclusion that prevented small businesses owned at least 20 percent by an individual who was arrested for or convicted of a felony unrelated to financial assistance fraud within the previous year from applying for a PPP loan; (vi) eliminate the student loan delinquency restriction, which currently prevents small businesses owned at least 20 percent by an individual who is delinquent or has defaulted on student debt from receiving PPP loans; and (v) ensure non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents may apply for PPP loans using individual taxpayer identification numbers.

    Additionally, the Biden administration stated that SBA “is launching a new initiative to deepen its relationships with lenders” in order to facilitate communication regarding the PPP. The current round of PPP funding expires March 31 (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Federal Issues SBA Covid-19 Small Business Lending Biden

  • Biden directs HUD to examine disparate impact rule

    Federal Issues

    On January 26, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) directing the secretary of HUD to examine the effects of the September 2020 final rule amending the agency’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s 2013 disparate impact standard (2013 Rule). As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the final rule is intended to align its 2013 Rule with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. and among other things, includes a modification of the three-step burden-shifting framework in its 2013 Rule, several new elements that plaintiffs must show to establish that a policy or practice has a “discriminatory effect,” and specific defenses that defendants can assert to refute disparate impact claims. The E.O. emphasizes HUD’s “statutory duty to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act,” and requires the HUD secretary to take any necessary steps, “to implement the Fair Housing Act’s requirements that HUD administer its programs in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing and HUD’s overall duty to administer the Act (42 U.S.C. 3608(a)) including by preventing practices with an unjustified discriminatory effect.”

    Federal Issues Executive Order Disparate Impact Fair Housing Act Fair Lending HUD Biden

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