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Financial Services Committee passes bills to reform credit reporting

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WASHINGTON — The House Financial Services Committee advanced bills late Thursday to reform the credit bureaus and allow consumers greater access to their credit reports.

The legislation all passed the committee along party lines. Two of the bills would mandate major changes at the credit reporting giants Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A bill sponsored by Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., the Improving Credit Reporting for All Consumers Act, would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to craft minimum standards for the credit bureaus and would give consumers the right to appeal credit reporting decisions.

The Restoring Unfairly Impaired Credit and Protecting Consumers Act, sponsored by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., would reduce the time period during which negative information can stay on a credit report from seven to four years.

A bill introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., to shorten the time that negative information stays on a credit report was advanced out of the House Financial Services Committee during a markup Thursday.

Bloomberg News

The Free Credit scores for Consumers Act of 2019 — sponsored by Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio — would require credit bureaus to provide users with free copies of their credit scores. The Restricting Use of Credit Checks for Employment Decisions Act, which was introduced by Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., would prohibit employers from using credit information when evaluating job candidates.

“My bill creates greater access to the job market by eliminating unnecessary employment barriers,” Lawson said in a statement. “An individual’s history does not prove a person’s ability to perform a job well. When used in employment decisions credit scores only serve to limit an individual’s opportunity. The Restricting Credit Checks for Employment Decisions Act levels the playing field for all job applicants.”

All four bills were approved by the committee’s Democratic majority, with no Republicans voting to advance the legislation.

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the ranking member of the committee, blasted the credit reporting bills, arguing that the group has only held one hearing on the subject and it did not focus enough on proposals to reform the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

“There was just one discussion draft of a bill attached with a hearing notice, yet this draft was not discussed once during the hearing. Not once,” McHenry said in his opening statement at the committee’s markup. “Now, six months later, without further discussion, we’re considering these bills that would make significant changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”

But the committee was able to find bipartisan agreement in other legislation considered at a markup Thursday. The committee unanimously passed a bill that would permanently authorize the Agriculture Department’s Multifamily Housing Preservation and Revitalization program and would call on the USDA to draft a plan to preserve rural multifamily housing.

Legislation that would create a national registry of real estate appraisers and would provide transparency about appraiser fees also passed by voice vote.

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