Congress

Elizabeth Warren wants big banks to give details of assistance to furloughed federal workers as shutdown continues

Democratic senator highlights more transparency from credit unions about help for the workers who are not being paid

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wants details of what large banks are doing to help customers affected by the partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants specifics from big banks about what they are doing to help federal workers who haven’t received paychecks due to the partial government shutdown.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who is often an adversary of large financial institutions, actually praised some of them for public statements expressing support for the furloughed federal employees (and those required to report to work without pay).

But, noting that many credit unions have been more transparent about announcing their programs, she wants more details from the largest banks by Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“I’m glad that you are taking some steps to help your customers but these announcements do not provide full details about the services that are actually available to affected workers and businesses,” she wrote in the letters to executives like Bank of America President and CEO Brian Moynihan.

In addition to asking about what specific services and waivers may be provided to federal employees, Warren also asked about contract workers, who generally will not receive compensation after-the-fact for hours not worked.

“Are you offering any kind of shutdown assistance to federal contractors or contractors’ employees affected by the shutdown?” she asked. “If so, what services are you offering, what are the criteria required for individuals to utilize these services, and what are the terms and conditions of these services?”

Warren asked for statistics on how many customers may have taken advantage of programs offered during the partial shutdown.

In addition to Bank of America, other banks receiving the letters dated on Tuesday were Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan also heard from Warren on a separate matter in a letter dated Tuesday. Warren is criticizing the bank for an apparent practice of charging above average fees for financial products that were marketed to students on college campuses.

That second letter to Sloan was publicly released on Thursday.

“Wells Fargo has a history of aggressively and sometimes illegally squeezing its customers to boost its profits, and this report illustrates that the bank is deploying similar tactics on America’s college campuses to target vulnerable students,” Warren wrote in that letter. “When granted the privilege of providing financial services to students through colleges, Wells Fargo used this access to charge struggling college students exorbitant fees. These high fees, which are an outlier within the industry, demonstrate conclusively that Wells Fargo does not belong on college campuses.”

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