Big Bank Executives Could Have to Testify Annually If Democrats Get Their Way

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Jamie Dimon, David Solomon and other Wall Street leaders had just gotten through hours of lawmakers’ questions at a House hearing last month when Maxine Waters delivered a final bit of bad news: She planned to bring them all back again next year.

If Democrats get their way, an annual grilling from politicians could be required by law.

Draft legislation that would make annual testimony mandatory for the chief executive officers of systemically important banks was added to the agenda for a separate Thursday hearing before the House Financial Services Committee. As it stands, bank chiefs aren’t required to appear before Congress unless they’re subpoenaed, though they usually agree to testify voluntarily.

The bill has not been formally introduced, and even if it is, it would seem to face long odds of getting through the Republican-controlled Senate. Still, the fact that Democrats wrote the legislation is the latest sign that they intend to aggressively use Congress’ oversight powers to scrutinize banks, tech behemoths and other powerful companies.

April’s appearance before the financial services panel by JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Dimon, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Solomon and other CEOs was cast at the outset as a hearing in search of a headline by GOP lawmakers. But by the end, even Representative Patrick McHenry, the panel’s top Republican, conceded that it had moments of substance.

Waters, the committee’s chairwoman, considered the hearing a success. Multiple banks announced the kinds of changes she’s been advocating for in advance, such as Bank of America Corp. raising its minimum wage and Goldman Sachs setting minority hiring goals.

Waters is planning another hearing for regional bank executives. It’s a way for her to make headway on her policy goals at a time when passing legislation is challenging due to congressional gridlock.

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