During the 2016 presidential election, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine touted his experience as a former civil rights attorney and, in particular, his experience representing people of color who faced housing discrimination. Now, Kaine—along with 11 of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate—is supporting a financial deregulation package that would curtail the government’s ability to police banks’ discriminatory lending practices.
The legislation would block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from collecting key data showing when and where families of color are being overcharged for home loans or steered into predatory products. It’s just one small provision in a broad financial deregulation package, which, thanks to backing from 12 Democratic senators, is almost certain to clear both chambers of Congress and receive President Donald Trump’s signature.
Detailed numbers from the CFPB show the data loss would be heavily concentrated on poor neighborhoods—precisely the communities most at risk for predatory lending. More than 1,700 census tracts officially designated as “low and moderate income” would lose at least 20% of the data they’d collect without the new law, while 185 cities and towns would lose at least 10%.
This bill would almost certainly serve to exacerbate racial discrimination against prospective black homeowners. Banks are notorious for refusing home loans to black families, a practice called redlining. Kaine should be more than familiar with this practice: he once won a $26 million lawsuit against Nationwide Insurance after the lender refused to offer insurance to black homeowners in majority-black neighborhoods.
When banks do offer mortgages to black and Hispanic families, they are often costly and high-risk. A 2016 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “Hispanic Americans are 78% more likely to be given a high-cost mortgage, and black Americans are 105% more likely.”
Now, Democrats in the Senate are working with Republicans to make it easier for banks to get away with this practice. By further eroding the CFPB’s oversight and regulatory powers, banks would be able to continue overcharging black families and pushing them into expensive and risky mortgages with little fear of reprisal.
Here’s how Kaine is defending his support for the legislation:
A Kaine spokesperson said the senator is just looking to provide “relief for small community banks and credit unions in Virginia while strengthening consumer protections for all Americans.” The spokesperson also noted Kaine’s background: “As a former fair housing attorney who fought against discriminatory lending practices, Senator Kaine supports stringent requirements to protect against unfair lending, and this legislation keeps those protections in place.”
Despite his past bonafides, Kaine has firmly established himself as a banking-friendly Democrat. He’s helping Republicans roll back Dodd-Frank’s financial regulations and voted to reopen the government after Democrats shut it down for all of six hours, leaving hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients’ lives in limbo.
The Senate will vote on the package next week. Here are the 12 Democrats (and one independent) who are co-sponsoring the bill:
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
- Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
- Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL)
- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)
- Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
- Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
And here are their office phone numbers. Do with those what you will.