McHenry Votes to End Operation Choke Point
Congressman was first to examine Admin program targeting legal business
Washington, February 5, 2016 | Jeff Butler (202-225-2576)
Congressman Patrick McHenry applauded House passage of H.R. 766, the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2015 which ends Operation Choke Point. While serving as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in 2014, Congressman McHenry led efforts to bring Obama Administration officials before Congress to answer as to why legal businesses were being targeted.
“Operation Choke Point was a thinly-veiled effort by the Obama Administration to target legal businesses—such as retailers of firearms and ammunition—with which they philosophically disagree. Yesterday, the House voted to bring this illegal program to an end," said Congressman McHenry. “Having chaired the first Congressional hearing that examined Operation Choke Point, today is an important day. With passage of H.R. 766, never again will Washington bureaucrats possess the power to manipulate the banking system and threaten the livelihood of legal businesses they don’t like.”
Operation Choke Point was an effort led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) along with the FDIC, Federal Reserve, and OCC which targeted financing for so-called 'high-risk' industries. Based on Congressional reports and documents produced by the DOJ it is clear Operation Choke Point led to banks terminating relationships with a wide variety of legal merchants including pawn shops and gun and ammunition merchants.
On July 15, 2014 Congressman McHenry chaired a hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee entitled "The Department of Justice's 'Operation Choke Point'" which examined Choke Point. Testifying at the hearing were representatives from the DOJ, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC. Additional information on the hearing is available here.
H.R. 766 includes reforms to bring greater transparency to federal oversight of banks. It prevents federal regulators from abusing executive power by preventing legitimate businesses from using depository institutions. It additionally requires federal regulators provide justification in writing of any request to terminate a customer account except in instances of threats to national security.