Republican congressional leaders called on Trump administration regulators Thursday to formally announce the end of Operation Choke Point by the end of the month, to reassure businesses affected by the Obama-era initiative to weed out fraud and money laundering in the financial sector.
Reps. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairmen of the House Judiciary and Financial Services committees, respectively, called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and banking regulators to make an official statement declaring that they will no longer scrutinize banks for transacting with payday lenders and other businesses targeted as part of the initiative.
"Financial institutions should be given explicit assurance that they may serve those unfairly targeted industries just like any other legitimate businesses," the lawmakers wrote.
Operation Choke Point was started by the Obama administration in 2013, with the goal of preventing banks from facilitating illegal activity, such as illicit payday lending, by giving lawbreakers access to the banking system. Republicans, however, have charged that the initiative was a way for the Obama administration to target disfavored industries such as payday lender and gun shops while denying them due process.
Although the administration has changed, the House Republicans are seeking a formal reversal to ensure that the agencies don't prevent banks from serving certain customers.
In their letter, they also expressed concern that some banks might still be turning down new customers from the affected industries out of fear of Operation Choke Point.