Shame on GOP in the U.S. House – with one exception!

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Our Congressman, Walter B. Jones, only Republican to vote against payday lending expansion

“More and more, Congress takes action to benefit special interests, not the people. Sadly, this appears to be one of those cases. There’s just no good reason to give financial services firms a loophole to get around state interest rate caps and get desperate folks into loans with exorbitant interest rates they can’t afford. I didn’t ask for this job to make it easier for some Wall Street guy to take the last nickel out of the pocket of a struggling Eastern North Carolina family.”

Congressman Walter B. Jones
Third Congressional District of N.C.

By Kelly Tornow, Policy Director
Center for Responsible Lending

Note: County Compass staff writers contributed to this Opinion Piece.


We applaud Congressman Jones’s “no” vote on the Rent-A-Bank bill and hope our U.S. Senators follow his lead and prevent this harmful bill from becoming law.

North Carolina families save over $450 million per year because state law currently caps annual interest rates for consumer loans at 30 percent. This keeps lenders who make triple-digit interest predatory payday and car title loans from operating in our states. We appreciate U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) for consistently voting to preserve North Carolina’s protections from these debt traps. Just last week, he opposed a measure that threatened to bring payday loan sharks back into our state.

H.R. 3299 — titled by its proponents with the misleading name ‘Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act’ — passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week under the sponsorship of North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) – and with the nearly unanimous support of Republicans – were it not for Congressman’s Jones principled opposition. This bill, if enacted, will open the floodgates to online predatory lending of 300 percent APR and higher, even in states like North Carolina that have strong state usury laws.

The bill would bless “Rent-A-Bank” schemes and encourage them to spread by legalizing loans that are briefly originated by a bank, no matter how high the interest rate, even if the bank has little involvement and the loans are immediately sold to a payday lender.

If passed into law, predatory “fintech” lenders will have access to the bank accounts of customers who seek help through a financial crisis and end up in a debt trap systematically designed to keep customers in a high-cost cycle. This already drains more than $8 billion a year from working families and folks on limited incomes in other states.

A broad coalition of veterans’, consumer, faith, civil rights and seniors’ groups, along with Republican and Democratic legislators, support North Carolina’s strong interest rate cap of 30 percent because they know how payday and car title lending lead to loss of bank accounts, overdraft fees, car repossession, and even bankruptcy.

Again, those of us here at the Durham-based Center for Responsible Lending applaud Congressman Jones’s “no” vote on H.R. 3299. We hope the U.S. Senate will follow his lead and prevent this harmful bill from becoming law.

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