By Leslie Sack, Head of Government Relations of SFA
On Tuesday, August 11, Joe Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. Earlier this week, at the virtual Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, WI, they received the official nominations as the Democratic Party’s candidates for President and Vice President.
Elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate in 2016, Senator Harris previously served as the Attorney General of California from 2011-2017. She is widely viewed as more moderate than other potential Vice President nominees and she is not expected to prioritize bank regulations if she and Biden win in November.
Here we outline some of Senator Harris’ views and recent work including: tax, financial services, housing, corporate governance, and related legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Financial Transaction Tax
- Senator Harris said she “would tax Wall Street stock trades at 0.2%, bond trades at 0.1%, and derivative transactions at 0.002%.”
Corporate Tax Policy
- “Get rid of the whole thing,” Harris said of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent.
- Harris’s presidential website highlighted her desire to pass the LIFT Act.
- The LIFT ACT would reverse President Trump’s trillion-dollar tax cut for big corporations and the top 1% and use that money to give a tax credit of up to $6,000 to working families each year. That money would allow families to cover an unexpected expense.
- Harris said she will partner with states to expand access to capital through state-led programs.
- Harris said she will bring back the State Small Business Credit Initiative that supported state programs to strengthen small businesses. Harris further said she would invest an additional $10 billion in the fund and add incentives to encourage the funding to be used to support minority small businesses operating in high-poverty communities.
- Harris would also amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require the credit scores reported by credit reporting agencies to include payments of rent, phone bills, and utilities.
- Harris’s Rent Relief Act would create a refundable tax credit for renters who pay more than 30% of their gross income for the taxable year on their rent including utilities. Recipients would be willing to use that money to help pay their rent and stay in their homes. People who live in government-subsidized housing would also be able to claim the value of one month’s rent as a tax credit to provide relief from rising costs.
- Harris also released a plan for “Closing the Racial Homeownership Gap” that would do the following:
- invest $100 billion to provide down-payment and closing-cost assistance to four million homebuyers who rent or live in historically red-lined communities.
- require lenders to calculate debt to income on a monthly basis and expand the sources of income for purposes of the calculation. To do this, the plan would require mortgage underwriters, when using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, to calculate a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio by using monthly expenses against monthly income. Mortgage underwriters would also be required to include in their income calculations non-W2 income like earnings from non-traditional work, and Black and Latinx workers are more likely to participate in the gig economy.
- strengthen anti-discrimination laws and enforcement efforts by updating the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to require that each loan receive a unique loan identifier to track the loan, by expanding HUD’s fair housing program to make public housing more inclusive by banning discrimination based on gender identity, marital status, source of income, and sexual identity. It would also accomplish this by directing HUD, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to conduct audits and fair housing tests to prevent discrimination at the point of sale. Lastly, it would make sure that the U.S. Department of Justice has the resources it needs to implement stricter enforcement of housing anti-discrimination laws and would prohibit regulatory relief for large banks and lenders that have had a history of wrongfully guiding borrowers into predatory loans.
- Harris released another plan entitled “Holding Corporations Accountable for Pay Inequality in America” that would require companies with 100 or more employees to obtain Equal Pay Certification from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within three years of enactment, and every two years thereafter. Companies with 500 or more employees will have two years from enactment to certify.
- Under Harris’s plan, companies that fail to receive “Equal Pay Certification” will face a fine for every day they discriminate against their workers.
- Companies would be required to disclose whether they are “Equal Pay Certified” on the homepage of their websites.
- Under the plan, compliance reports will be posted publicly on EEOC’s website. These reports would empower individual employees to assess where they fall on their company’s pay scale and as in the UK, allow the public to hold corporations accountable for pay gaps.
- Companies would also be required to disclose whether they are “Equal Pay Certified” on the homepage of their websites and to prospective employees. Public companies will also be required to disclose their certification to shareholders in their annual report.
- Harris also supported the FAMILY Act to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Fines collected under the plan are designed to help build on the FAMILY Act, increasing the percentage of wages workers receive when taking time to care for themselves or a loved one.
- The plan also strengthens and expands anti-discrimination protections to ensure all workers, no matter the size of their employer, are covered by Title VII of Civil Rights Act.
- Lastly, it ensures women receive justice for discriminatory pay. Fines collected under the plan will help significantly increase EEOC enforcement of laws designed to root out individual and class-wide cases of pay discrimination, including the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of Civil Rights Act.
Senator Harris’s legislative activity during COVID-19:
S. 4519– A bill to provide mortgage relief and to provide eviction relief for renters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes
- Introduced by Harris on August 10, 2020
S. 4455– A bill to require reporting on the paycheck protection program of the Small Business Administration, and for other purposes
- Introduced by Harris on August 5, 2020
S. 4255– A bill to amend the CARES Act to establish community investment programs, and for other purposes
- Introduced by Sen. Warner (D-VA) on July 21, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)
S. 4098– Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act
- To provide funding for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation Act, and for other purposes.
- Introduced by Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) on June 29, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)
S. 4097– Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees Act of 2020
- This bill expands the moratorium on evictions to include all tenants, as opposed to tenants of federally assisted properties, and extends the moratorium until March 27, 2021 (the current moratorium expires on July 25, 2020)
- Introduced by Sen. Warren (D-MA) on June 29, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among other)
S. 4047– Saving Our Street Act
- This bill establishes and provides funding for the Microbusiness Assistance Fund through which the Department of the Treasury must provide grants to specified small entities Specifically, the bill provides $125 billion for grants to entities such as community small businesses and nonprofits that have suffered a drop in revenue of over 20% during the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic. Such a grant shall not exceed $250,000 and may only be used for certain purposes, including (1) rehiring or hiring furloughed employees; (2) payment of compensation, rent or mortgage, utilities, or insurance; and (3) providing health care and benefits to employees.
- Introduced by Harris on June 23, 2020
S. 3685– Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020
- To provide emergency rental assistance under the Emergency Solutions Grants program of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in response to the public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus, and for other purposes
- Introduced by Sen. Brown (D-OH) on May 12, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)
S. 3620– A bill to establish a Housing Assistance Fund at the Department of the Treasury
- This bill provides funds for assistance to homeowners to prevent mortgage defaults, foreclosures, and displacements of individuals and families experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. The Department of the Treasury must disburse the funds to state housing finance agencies and Indian tribes for the provision of such assistance.
- Introduced by Sen. Reed (D-RI) on May 6, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)
S. 4095– Emergency Broadband Connections Act of 2020
- To provide emergency benefits for broadband service during periods relating to COVID–19, and for other purposes
- Introduced by Sen. Wyden (D-OR) on June 29, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)
S. 4131– Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act
- To make high-speed broadband internet service accessible and affordable to all Americans, and for other purposes
- Introduced by Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) on July 1, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)
S. 4328– A bill to require the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study and report on data quality, sharing, transparency, access, and analysis
- Introduced by Sen. Schumer (D-NY) on July 27, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)
S. 4439– A bill to require any COVID-19 drug developed in whole or in part with Federal support to be affordable and accessible by prohibiting monopolies and price gouging, and for other purposes
- Introduced by Sen. Smith (D-MN) on August 5, 2020, Co-sponsored by Harris (among others)