U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) recently joined a group of senators that has proposed legislation that prohibits banks and other financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
The Fair Access to Financial Services Act seeks to ensure that all people receive equal treatment when trying to access financial institutions’ services. It would also hold institutions accountable for discriminatory practices.
“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.”
Along with Wyden and Merkley, the bill is sponsored by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).
“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 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.