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Waters: More Diverse Financial Institutions Needed, Particularly in Management

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, talks to reporters at the Capitol on Jan. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said she “probably” would support the effort to study reparations for descendants of slaves.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) sponsored H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, following Rep. John Conyers’ (D-Mich.) resignation from Congress in 2017.

The bill seeks to “address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.”

Last year, Waters was asked about H.R. 40 and reparations during an appearance in Selma, Ala.

“I’d be happy to do that – that’s no problem, that’s no problem,” she said in March 2018. “If we want to get to the point where we can get reparations, we’ve got to have the power to do that, No. 1, by having a supportive president would be wonderful but taking back the House would be absolutely wonderful and so yes, I’m Maxine Waters. I am a progressive. I am a liberal. I am someone who is willing to step way outside of the box in order to do what America has not done.”

In the last session of Congress, Waters was not listed among the 35 co-sponsors of the legislation. On Jan. 16, Waters was asked if she supports H.R. 40.

“I probably will but I don’t know enough about the bill,” Waters said following her speech at a Center for American Progress event, “A New Agenda for Financial Services and Accountability.”

Waters emphasized that she intends to investigate the actions of former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney.

“During his [Mulvaney’s] tenure, Mulvaney made it a priority to dismantle the consumer bureau from within,” she said. “I’ve written to Mr. Mulvaney to inform him that while his time running the consumer bureau may be over, the time for accountability for his actions is about to begin.”

Waters said she plans to reintroduce the Consumers First Act to “reverse” some of Mulvaney’s decisions.

“This Congress, I’m going to be working diligently to undo the damage that Mulvaney has wrought during his time at the consumer bureau,” she said.

Waters noted that she is creating a new “diversity and inclusion” Financial Services subcommittee to address a lack of access to financial services for female consumers and minorities. Waters argued that minorities and women are not adequately represented in financial services industry jobs, particularly at the management level.

“Minorities and women have particularly low representation at the senior levels within the financial services industry. This needs to change. Diverse representation in these institutions and particularly at the management level is essential to ensure that all consumers have fair access to credit, capital and banking and financial services,” Waters said. “I’m very pleased and proud to announce that I will be creating this subcommittee on diversity and inclusion. This subcommittee will be the first of its kind in Congress.”

She reiterated her support for a “huge” bill dedicated to ending homelessness, which she estimated would include more than $13 billion to tackle the issue. In the last session of Congress, Waters introduced the Ending Homelessness Act of 2017.

“I will soon be reintroducing my bill, the Ending Homelessness Act, which would help to ensure that every American has a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. The bill provides $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to federal programs and initiatives to prevent homelessness,” she said. “In addition, we will be holding committee hearings on homelessness and important housing issues that have gone ignored during the last Congress, in order to elevate housing issues into a national discussion and present proactive solutions and remedies.”