[Pages S6052-S6059]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  PROVIDING FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISAPPROVAL UNDER CHAPTER 8 OF TITLE 5, 
    UNITED STATES CODE, OF THE RULE SUBMITTED BY THE OFFICE OF THE 
 COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY RELATING TO ``COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT 
                    REGULATIONS''--MOTION TO PROCEED

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I move to proceed to H.J. Res. 90, 
providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, 
United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Office of the 
Comptroller of the Currency relating to ``Community Reinvestment Act 
Regulations,'' which was received from the House.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to H.J. Res. 90, a joint resolution 
     providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of 
     title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the 
     Office of the Comptroller of the Currency relating to 
     ``Community Reinvestment Act Regulations''.

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the vote 
on the motion to proceed to H.J. Res. 90 occur at 5:45 p.m. today, with 
the time equally divided between the two leaders or their designees.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays are ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Boozman). The Senator from Tennessee is 
recognized.


                      Censorship and Social Media

  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. President, it doesn't take a genius to figure out 
that there is a small but very loud sector of the American people who 
are willing to condition their tolerance for diverging viewpoints on 
how they feel, they themselves feel about what is being said, 
worshipped, or reported. And as scary and as frightening as that 
attitude is to many of us, it is increasingly reflected in the very 
companies that have the most influence over how we access and consume 
information.
  Last week, we saw two of these companies go to extremes to get in 
line with radicals who are trying to block, censor, and intimidate 
their way into power. We all know the companies and the controversy I 
am talking about. Twitter and Facebook censored the spread of a New 
York Post article containing allegations that could potentially affect 
the outcome of the upcoming election.
  That is all I am going to say about the article itself because, 
frankly, the content bears no importance on how anyone should react to 
what happened after it was posted. Someone working for a private 
company--someone who is a content reviewer or content moderator--
someone working for a private company made a unilateral decision to 
stop Americans from reading the article. They didn't like it. They 
said: I have the power to stop it, and because I have that power, I am 
going to stop it.
  Now that is precisely what happened, and I will tell you, colleagues, 
it is not just that they blocked the link and the text of the article, 
it is that at least in Twitter's case, they suspended the Trump 
campaign's account; they suspended the New York Post account; they 
locked the White House Press Secretary's account; and they suppressed 
information posted by the House Judiciary Committee Republicans. They 
couldn't even provide a plausible explanation for why they did this. 
Think about that.
  They made themselves the arbiters of free speech, and they, in their 
almighty position, decided they were going to determine what you could 
hear, when you could hear it, and how you could hear it. They decided.
  The common element, of course, in all of this action that took place 
was the New York Post story. Was it information or hacked information 
or just inconvenient information? No one seems to want to answer that 
question. Why do they not want to answer that question? It is because 
they didn't like the information. It did not suit their narrative, but 
the way things stand, they didn't have to, because there is no real 
accountability and now their weak explanations have been co-opted into 
arguments made by activists, rival media organizations, and even 
journalists who were insisting that the information is harmful and must 
be stricken from the record.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Would the Senator yield? I have brought an announcement 
to the floor that will take a brief minute. I don't mean to interrupt.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. I would be happy to yield to the Democratic leader.

[[Page S6053]]

  

  Mr. SCHUMER. I thank the Senator from Tennessee


                            Notice of Intent

  Mr. SCHUMER. I just want to put the Members on notice. Later this 
evening, I will make a motion to adjourn the Senate until after the 
November election.
  The Republican majority refused to consider the Supreme Court nominee 
of a duly elected Democratic President because it was 8 months before 
the election. Now they are trying to ram through a Justice in mere 
days--days--before an election. It is the most rushed, the most 
partisan, the least legitimate nomination process in Supreme Court 
history, and it should not proceed.
  So I want the Members to know that I will move to adjourn until after 
the election with the ability to come back into session if there is a 
bipartisan agreement on a COVID relief package.
  I thank the Senator for letting me put Members on notice that we will 
do this later this evening.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator may proceed.


                      Censorship and Social Media

  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you very much, Mr. President. I have to tell 
you, listening to the Democratic leader there, this is one of the 
things that social media has taken off on.
  They lost. They lost the 2016 Presidential election, and they have 
never accepted the results. Never. It doesn't fit their narrative. So 
what do they do? Look at this. Let's just not even work. Let's just 
adjourn. Let's not do our constitutional duty.
  I tell you what, you can't make this stuff up. You really can't. 
Cognitive dissonance of this moment in history has overwhelmed the 
discourse.
  It is important to make it abundantly clear that the outrage--the 
absolute outrage from the American people over this incident with 
social media has everything to do with their very fluid and subjective 
standards that these companies use to control the flow of information, 
and over the last few years, they have gotten worse about it. And you 
know what? They do it until we slap their hands and then pull them back 
in, and we say: You can't do this.
  Now, in the case that we are discussing that happened last week, it 
looks suspiciously like they applied a brandnew set of standards 
because someone got spooked at the prospect of losing momentum on a 
political narrative.
  They are all working together on this. So let's go home; let's not 
work; let's not do our job; let's bury a story on social media. Why? 
Their gal didn't win in 2016, and Donald Trump did because the American 
people said: We are with him, not her.
  Now, here in Washington we can argue all over election-year politics, 
but in Tennessee, the people are seeing this for what it is, and they 
are not talking about politics. They think this is pretty terrifying. 
They are seeing a news platform censor the news, and they are seeing 
extremely powerful people cheer it on. To them and to me, that is 
frightening.
  They are looking to us to get into one of those policy debates my 
colleagues across the aisle were so eager to jump into just last week 
during Judge Barrett's confirmation hearing.
  Fortunately, for them, we have got a head start on that discussion. 
Big Tech has spent the last several years building up a body of 
evidence against its own intentions, and if we don't address their 
growing influence, we will lose our ability to create responsive 
policy.
  I have already come to the floor several times to speak on various 
ways we are doing this--through legislation, antitrust investigations, 
and some good old-fashioned committee hearings. Congress doing its job, 
precisely why we ought not to adjourn, precisely why we should stay 
here and do our work.
  On October 28, the Commerce Committee will host a few familiar faces 
for a hearing where we will analyze the effect that the liability 
shield found in section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has on 
Big Tech's behavior. Over the course of the hearing, we will speak with 
Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai 
of Google about their approach to using the section 230 shield.
  We will also examine various legislative proposals to modernize 
section 230, including one of my own that would resolve some 
ambiguities regarding what sorts of content moderation policies are 
shielded from liability and which ones aren't protected. We are going 
to talk about the unintended consequences that stem from these 
policies. We are going to talk about their platforms' interaction with 
activists and with the media.
  I think we will probably get around to talking about it, whether they 
like it or not, because we have the bipartisan and unanimously 
authorized subpoenas in hand to do it, and those subpoenas are good 
through the end of this Congress.
  Hopefully, by going straight to the top, we will gain a better 
understanding of why these companies can't seem to regulate themselves, 
why they can't seem to stop themselves from having a complete meltdown 
every single time we turn up the heat and talk about these issues of 
privacy, talk about censorship, talk about prioritization, talk about 
preferencing, talk about holding them accountable for the spectrum they 
use to put out their message and the activity that they are taking now 
to censor the free speech of the American public.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I am glad to see a Member of the majority 
saying that Mitch McConnell ought to have us around here doing some 
work. I appreciate the Senator from Tennessee saying that.
  Senator McConnell said there was no urgency to help unemployed 
workers. Six hundred thousand unemployed workers in my State in August 
lost their $600 a week. What are they to do?
  Foreclosures are up. There are no dollars for public education so 
schools can open safely.
  I appreciate the Senator from Tennessee. Maybe she will talk to 
Senator McConnell and ask him to do his job so we can do our job.


                              H.J. Res. 90

  Mr. President, I rise to speak in support of H.J. Res. 90, the joint 
resolution of disapproval of the Office of the Comptroller of the 
Currency's Community Reinvestment Act rule.
  We know who gets hit the hardest by this pandemic and economic 
crisis. It is not Wall Street. It is not CEOs. It is not U.S. Senators. 
It is low-income workers. It is essential workers. It is workers who go 
to work every day and get exposed to this virus and then come home, 
anxious about potentially infecting their family. It is the middle 
class. It is communities of color. Those are the people getting hit the 
hardest. It is the same story we see over and over and over. Corporate 
lobbyists and their allies in Washington do whatever it takes--whatever 
it takes to make sure that Wall Street recovers, and then they say: Oh, 
no, we can't afford to--we can't--the budget, the deficit. We can give 
a tax cut to rich people, explode the deficit, but we can't do anything 
for regular people, for middle-class people, and for low-income people. 
We just can't afford to help anyone else.
  The stock market is back up, so Leader McConnell and President Trump 
seem to think that everything is just fine, thank you, in our country. 
Meanwhile, families don't know how to feed their children and how to 
make rent. They don't know about family businesses closing their doors 
and schools can't open for in-person learning. But, oh, yeah, the stock 
market is up, so Leader McConnell and President Trump seem to think 
everything is fine.
  Black-owned businesses have closed down at twice the rate--including 
in the State of Arkansas--closed at twice the rate of White-owned 
businesses during this pandemic. Black and Latino renters are more 
likely to be behind on their rent or mortgage. But the stock market is 
up, so Leader McConnell and President Trump seem to think that 
everything is just fine.
  Low-wage workers are more likely to remain out of work. There are 
600,000 people in my State who can't find jobs. They have lost their 
unemployment insurance. But the stock market is up, so Leader McConnell 
and President Trump seem to think that everything is fine.
  Low-wage workers are more likely to remain out of work and more 
likely to be struggling to pay for food. We

[[Page S6054]]

should--we should--but we are not because Leader McConnell is taking 
care of his contributors, he is taking care of the big-money people, 
and he is taking care of Wall Street. The stock market is up--I know I 
have said that a few times--but that is what matters to far too many 
people around here, and to the President of the United States, that is 
what matters. We should be rolling up our sleeves to invest in 
neighborhoods and the small businesses that sustain them. Instead, we 
have had another Trump appointee working to actually make it harder to 
invest in these communities at a time when they need support the most.
  For decades, redlining and government bank sanctions--you know how 
they started. It was the Black codes after reconstruction; then it was 
Jim Crow; then it was redlining; and now it is locking in 
discrimination by Trump nominees who have had another Trump appointee 
working to make it harder to invest.
  For decades, redlining and government- and bank-sanctioned 
discrimination left parts of this country--often Black and Brown 
communities, often rural areas in Southeast Ohio and Arkansas--with 
virtually no investment from banks. All kinds of people had dreams to 
start businesses, to build houses, to grow and support their 
communities, but they couldn't get the loans to do it. Even after 
Congress outlawed housing and lending discrimination based on race, 
whole communities struggled to get the loans they needed. Banks were 
happy to take Black and Brown and low-income people's deposits, and 
then they would lend their money to wealthy investors and companies 
outside of the community. Long after redlining and long after legal 
segregation officially ended, people living in largely Black and Brown 
neighborhoods weren't able to get mortgages to buy a home because the 
bank just wasn't making loans in those parts of town.
  Small farms and small businesses couldn't get the loans they needed 
to grow. That is why we passed the Community Reinvestment Act, the CRA, 
to make it clear that banks have a responsibility to serve all of the 
places where they do business, including low- and moderate-income 
areas. As I said, they would take the deposits and then take the money 
and lend it out to wealthy investors.
  The CRA is one of the foundational civil rights laws passed to 
address decades of explicit disinvestment and begin to undo the legacy 
of redlining. For 40 years, our government and banks alike have 
recognized in theory--in theory--that banking shouldn't just be about 
serving the people with six-figure salaries and big mortgages. It is 
about helping a family farm take out a loan. It is about helping a 
busdriver buy their first home or a brother and sister open a corner 
store in a neighborhood where there is nowhere to buy fresh groceries. 
It is about listening to what the communities need and making it 
happen, like helping to finance a new affordable housing development or 
offering small loans so that people don't have to turn to payday 
lenders. It is about investing in neighborhoods and borrowers who are 
locked out of the financial system based on who they were and where 
they were born.
  The three entities that oversee our banking system--the Comptroller 
of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, the FDIC--acted together over 
those 40 years so that there was one CRA for all banks to follow and 
one set of expectations about serving customers in communities.
  But, in May, the Trump OCC threw out 40 years of progress--just threw 
it out the window. But, you know, the stock market is up, so Leader 
McConnell and President Trump seem to think everything is just fine. In 
the middle of a pandemic disproportionately--we have established, and 
even Senator McConnell understands, this pandemic disproportionately 
harms Black and Brown communities in Kentucky, Arkansas, New Jersey, 
Delaware, Ohio, and all over this country, but Trump's OCC unilaterally 
rewrote the CRA--unilaterally. The other Trump nominees didn't even go 
that far.
  Just 6 weeks before the rule was finalized, civil rights leaders, 
community development organizations, State and local officials, Senator 
Menendez on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Budget Committee, 
and I and others submitted over 7,500 comments on the OCC's and FDIC's 
proposed rewrite of the CRA. The vast majority of commenters opposed 
the agency's proposal. A coalition of civil rights leaders, the NAACP, 
the National Fair Housing Alliance, and UnidosUS said the proposed rule 
invited--their words--``a return to discrimination against communities 
of color and low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.''
  Remember how this worked. It was the Black codes; then it was Jim 
Crow; then it was redlining. Now it is locking in these discriminatory 
rules, and we said no to that. But, unfortunately, the Trump 
administration says yes to that. But 22 State attorneys general wrote 
that the proposal was ``contrary to the [Community Reinvestment Act's] 
purpose and text, will harm communities in the States, and should be 
withdrawn.''
  Across my home State of Ohio, cities such as Akron, Toledo, Dayton, 
Cincinnati, Mansfield, Lima, and many others wrote and passed 
resolutions opposing this plan. Some in government--those not directly 
connected to the Trump administration--listened to the people we serve. 
The FDIC heard the feedback. FDIC saw the financial pain of the 
pandemic, and they declined to move forward. The Federal Reserve also 
said no, but the OCC plowed ahead. It ignored the thousands of civil 
rights groups and local nonprofits and banks, all of whom told them 
their plan just wouldn't work for low- and moderate-income communities. 
Instead, the agency said: We know best
  They think these Trump appointees in Washington know better than 
mayors and city council members and local advocates and small 
businesses in Ohio and around the country.
  The day after they announced they were ignoring the rest of the 
country and plowing ahead, Comptroller of the Currency Otting announced 
he would resign. Imagine that. First he inflicts this on us, and then 
he walks away, probably for a better paying job down the road.
  Since the rule was finalized, the Federal Reserve has set out on a 
path for all three regulators to work together to create a CRA rule 
that will increase the focus on lending and investments and services in 
low- and moderate-income communities and to small businesses and farms. 
That is what CRA is there for. That used to be bipartisan. That used to 
be the consensus around here. We should be investing in these 
communities that have been systematically excluded from sharing in our 
country's prosperity. That means strengthening the CRA. It means 
listening to communities when they tell us what they need. But the 
OCC's rule does the opposite. They even acknowledge there was 
widespread opposition to this rule, particularly from the communities 
the CRA was meant to serve.
  It should be easy for my Republican colleagues to join us in voting 
to revoke the OCC's rule and to stand up for the underserved in low- 
and moderate-income communities, rural communities, and communities of 
color whom CRA was meant to serve.
  I would just ask our Republican colleagues to join with what the FDIC 
wants to do--the Trump appointees there. Join with the Federal 
Reserve--Jay Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve, Trump appointee. It 
is what the Senate should be doing--working to get our country through 
the worst crisis we have seen in our lifetime and investing in the 
communities getting hit the hardest.
  Instead, Leader McConnell is using the final days before an election 
to jam through another special interest judge who will carry out the 
corporate agenda that the voters keep rejecting. The Senate needs to 
get back to focusing on the people we are here to serve and to repeal 
the OCC's misguided rule to gut the Community Reinvestment Act.
  I urge my colleagues to support the resolution so that we can get 
back to the task of strengthening the CRA. The stock market being up--
as important as that is to Leader McConnell and President Trump in 
their belief that everything is fine because the stock market is up, 
there is way more to measure our economy than that. Support our 
resolution; strengthen the CRA; and help our communities across the 
country.

[[Page S6055]]

  Before yielding the floor, I ask unanimous consent that the letters 
from the National Urban League, the Center for Responsible Lending, and 
45 civil rights organizations, consumer advocates, and unions in 
support of H.J. Res. 90 and opposing OCC's CRA rule be printed in the 
Record. Along with these letters that I have requested to be printed, I 
would also like to refer to a coalition letter supporting the 
resolution which can be found at: <a href='https://ncrc.org/wp-content/uploads/
dlm_uploads/2020/10/FINAL-H'>https://ncrc.org/wp-content/uploads/
dlm_uploads/2020/10/FINAL-H</a>.J.-Res-90-SignOn-Letter.pdf
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                        National Urban League,

                                                 October 19, 2020.
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators: On behalf of the National Urban League and 
     our 90 affiliates across 36 states and the District of 
     Columbia, I write to express strong support for H.J. 
     Resolution 90 (H.J. Res. 90), a Congressional Review Act 
     resolution intended to reverse the Office of the Comptroller 
     of the Currency's (OCC) harmful and woefully misguided 
     changes to the implementation of the Community Reinvestment 
     Act of 1977 (CRA).
       The framework represented by OCC's final CRA rule 
     represents a serious shift from the CRA's original intent of 
     addressing the history of redlining, disinvestment, and the 
     market failures that continue to leave communities of color 
     in America underserved. Notably, it is illustrative that two 
     of the three federal agencies charged with enforcing the 
     CRA--the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and the Federal Deposit 
     Insurance Corporation (FDIC)--did not join the OCC in 
     finalizing this controversial rule. Moreover, under the 
     leadership of Chair Jerome Powell and Governor Lael Brainard, 
     the Fed has now proposed a different approach to modernizing 
     the CRA that better aligns with the original intent of this 
     crucial civil rights law.
       If fully enacted, the OCC's final rule would effectively 
     give banks under the agency's jurisdiction more credit for 
     performing less CRA activity, resulting in significantly 
     fewer lending opportunities and bank services for the many 
     low- and middle-income (LMI) families nationwide who most 
     need the vital access to the sustainable lending and 
     homeownership opportunities made possible by the CRA. 
     Additionally, the OCC's final rule favors investments that 
     are already well-served by current market trends and for 
     which the CRA was never intended.
       The CRA was designed to combat generations of 
     discrimination and redlining by requiring banks to better 
     meet the lending needs of the surrounding communities in 
     which they are chartered to serve, including underserved 
     areas. This important law was enacted in large part because 
     communities of color continued to face barriers accessing 
     credit despite the passage of federal fair lending laws, 
     including the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Opportunity Act, 
     and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.
       In light of the very serious concerns about the OCC's 
     finalized changes to the implementation of the CRA, the 
     National Urban League urges Senators to vote in favor of H.J. 
     Res. 90 when it comes to the Senate floor for consideration. 
     Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact 
     Julius Niyonsaba at the National Urban League.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Marc H. Morial,
     President & CEO, National Urban League.
                                  ____



                                Center for Responsible Lending

                                                 October 19, 2020.
     U.S. Senate,
     U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator: The Center for Responsible Lending writes to 
     express our strong support for H.J. Res. 90, a Congressional 
     Review Act resolution of disapproval that will invalidate the 
     Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) final rule on 
     the Community Reinvestment Act.
       The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) was one in a 
     series of landmark civil rights legislation and is a critical 
     tool to help our nation work toward overcoming the legacy of 
     redlining. Today's racial wealth gap and lending disparities 
     are in large part the result of decades of government 
     policies and practices that enabled the redlining of 
     communities of color for most of the 20th century. In the 
     post-Depression era, federal policies that created housing 
     opportunities for returning veterans and their families 
     explicitly excluded people of color from the benefits of 
     government-supported housing programs. Among these programs 
     were public housing, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation 
     (HOLC), and mortgage insurance through the Federal Housing 
     Administration (FHA). Not only did this redlining segregate 
     residential neighborhoods across the United States, but it 
     granted whites the ability to build wealth through 
     homeownership while denying equal opportunities for families 
     of color to build similar home equity over the same period. 
     The inequities that result from these discriminatory programs 
     are part of the injustices that today's people led protests 
     are demanding to be addressed.
       The CRA imposes continuing and affirmative obligations on 
     banks to help meet the credit needs of the local communities 
     in which they are chartered and continues to be an important 
     tool for fostering access to credit for these communities 
     today. The law has urged banks to more actively lend in LMI 
     areas; it has also played a key role in ensuring bank 
     participation in community revitalization efforts across the 
     country.
       Despite the importance of CRA and the community investment 
     it has spurred, CRA rules must be strengthened. The CRA as 
     applied has not done nearly enough to revitalize previously 
     redlined areas and has not made a substantial dent in the 
     lagging homeownership rate for people of color. The white 
     homeownership rate is 73% while the rate is 44% and 48% for 
     Black and Latino borrowers respectively. Additionally, bank 
     lending in LMI communities and communities of color has 
     declined dramatically since the Great Recession. And existing 
     disparities will be further perpetuated in the face of the 
     COVID-19 global public health and economic crisis.
       Unfortunately, the OCC decided to act unilaterally--without 
     the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance 
     Corporation--to issue a structurally flawed final rule that 
     weakens the CRA and will harm low- and moderate-communities 
     and communities of color. Rather than postpone rulemaking to 
     focus on the devastating economic crisis caused by the COVID-
     19 health pandemic, the OCC issued the rule a mere six weeks 
     after the closing of the comment period on its proposed rule 
     despite broad requests for delay from community groups, civil 
     rights and consumer organizations, and industry. The OCC 
     acknowledged in the preamble to the final rule that most of 
     the comments disagreed with the proposal's approach. Yet, the 
     OCC decided to side with the minority of comments in support 
     of the proposed rule. The OCC's rule will harm the 
     communities most adversely affected by the current crisis, 
     including many families that were hardest hit by the Great 
     Recession and have yet to recover.
       The final rule imposes an overly simplistic evaluation 
     measure that fails to ensure that local banking needs are 
     met, and sanctions bank redlining. The rule overvalues the 
     dollar amount of CRA activities in comparison to the quality 
     of such activities and allows banks to earn more credit for 
     easier and larger investments in communities from which they 
     can get the highest return. Indeed, the rule permits banks to 
     ignore 20% of their assessment areas and still pass, 
     resulting in unchecked neighborhood disinvestment and 
     redlining. The rule also disincentives investment in LMI 
     neighborhoods and communities of color. It incentivizes 
     activities and investments that do not ``primarily'' benefit 
     LMI communities, such as large-scale infrastructure projects. 
     Estimating such projects' impact on LMI neighborhoods is 
     difficult and thus will likely divest funds away from smaller 
     scale, yet impactful community development activities. 
     Furthermore, the rule reduces the importance of retail 
     lending and retail services, resulting in less lending and 
     investments in communities that are already credit starved. 
     The rule is opposite to the CRA's statutory mission and will 
     cause deep harm to communities.
       We urge support for H.J. Res. 90 to reverse the OCC's 
     regulatory attack on the Community Reinvestment Act. Thank 
     you for your consideration.
           Sincerely,
     Center for Responsible Lending.
                                  ____

                                                National Community


                                       Reinvestment Coalition,

                                                 October 19, 2020.
       Dear Senator: We, the undersigned organizations, write to 
     express our strong support for H.J. Res. 90, a Congressional 
     Review Act resolution of disapproval that will nullify a 
     rulemaking by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 
     (OCC) that, if allowed to stand, would drastically undermine 
     one of our nation's most important civil rights laws, the 
     Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (the CRA).
       Enacted in 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has 
     been vital in fighting redlining, a practice that 
     systematically--and for decades, as a matter of federal 
     policy--shut neighborhoods of color and lower-income 
     communities out from home loans and other essential financial 
     services. The CRA requires banks to undertake reasonable 
     efforts to lend to and invest in all of the neighborhoods in 
     areas where they do business. The law has helped to spur 
     increased investments in formerly-redlined communities. It 
     did not, however, prevent non-bank lenders (who are not 
     subject to the CRA) from flooding communities of color with 
     toxic subprime mortgages in the years before the 2008 crisis; 
     and research shows that racial disparities in lending--which 
     cannot be explained away by differences in credit scores--
     persist to this day.
       It is clear that the CRA needs to be modernized and 
     strengthened in order to fulfill its original purpose. But in 
     January, the OCC and the Federal Deposit Insurance 
     Corporation (FDIC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
     (NPRM) that would instead significantly weaken the CRA. The 
     agencies proposed new overly simplistic metrics system that 
     would make it far easier for banks to pass their CRA exams by 
     making large investments in communities where they can reap 
     the largest rewards, rather than carefully-targeted, smaller 
     investments in underserved consumers and neighborhoods.
       Even before the NPRM was published, a wide range of 
     stakeholders weighed in with

[[Page S6056]]

     both the OCC and FDIC to raise concerns and to ask for more 
     data justifying the changes. Those concerns were not 
     addressed, and the data was never released. By the time the 
     NPRM was published, the United States and the world were just 
     beginning to learn about the growing threat posed by a 
     dangerous new respiratory virus. In the coming weeks, it 
     became clear that the virus had not been contained, and it 
     spread rapidly to multiple countries including the United 
     States. As stakeholders and the public began devoting more 
     and more resources and attention to the health, social, and 
     economic fallout of the growing pandemic, and many urged the 
     OCC and FDIC to temporarily suspend rulemaking not related to 
     COVID-19, the agencies continued plowing ahead, only agreeing 
     to a one-month extension for comments.
       In the days before the deadline for comments on the rule, 
     it had become clear that COVID-19 was proving fatal to 
     communities of color--the very communities the CRA was 
     intended to help--at a rate several times higher than the 
     population at large; the U.S. Surgeon General warned the 
     public to prepare for ``our 9/11 moment,'' and models 
     predicted 100,000 or more deaths in the United States alone. 
     Only 41 days after the comment period ended, and even though 
     only a minority of commenters voiced support for the new 
     framework, the OCC rushed through a final rule that left it 
     largely intact. The FDIC, to its credit, declined to finalize 
     its version of the rule at this time.
       In the months since the OCC finalized its rule, our nation 
     has been facing a long-overdue reckoning with our troubled 
     legacy of racial and ethnic discrimination. While much of the 
     conversation has rightly been focused on police brutality and 
     the impact of over-policing in communities of color, this 
     conversation is inexorably tied to the lasting economic, 
     social, and legal legacy of redlining and other forms of 
     racial discrimination.
       We will not succeed in addressing issues surrounding law 
     enforcement in communities of color without also addressing 
     decades of underinvestment in housing, employment, education, 
     health care, transportation, and other factors that, to this 
     day, have contributed to the longstanding disparities that 
     are once again coming to light. Now is certainly not the time 
     to weaken the most important civil rights laws we have at our 
     disposal to correct those disparities.
       As such, we urge Congress to support H.J. Res. 90, to 
     overturn the OCC's regulatory attack on the Community 
     Reinvestment Act. Thank you for your consideration.
           Sincerely,
       9to5, National Association of Working Women; Alianza 
     Nacional de Campesinas; Alliance for Justice; Americans for 
     Financial Reform; Andrew Goodman Foundation; AREAA--Asian 
     Real Estate Association of America; Bend the Arc: Jewish 
     Action; Campesinos Sin Fronteras; Center for Responsible 
     Lending; Color of Change; Consortium for Citizens with 
     Disabilities Housing Task Force; Consumer Action; Equality 
     California; Farmworker Association of Florida; Green For All, 
     a program of Dream Corps; Impact Fund; Japanese American 
     Citizens League; Justice in Aging; The Leadership Conference 
     on Civil and Human Rights; League of Women Voters of the 
     United States; Matthew Shepard Foundation; Multicultural 
     Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA).
       NAACP; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; 
     National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders 
     (NALCAB); National Association of Consumer Advocates; 
     National Association of Human Rights Workers; National Center 
     for Lesbian Rights; National Community Reinvestment 
     Coalition; National Community Stabilization Trust; National 
     Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients); 
     The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA); 
     National Council of Churches; National Fair Housing Alliance; 
     National Housing Law Project; National LGBTQ Task Force 
     Action Fund; National Urban League; OCA-Asian Pacific 
     American Advocates; Poverty & Race Research Action Council; 
     Prosperity Now; Service Employees International Union; Silver 
     State Equality-Nevada; Tash; Union for Reform Judaism; 
     Woodstock Institute.
  Mr. BROWN. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I rise to join my colleagues from Ohio and 
from New Jersey in saying that we should not allow this OCC rule, 
gutting the core elements of the CRA, to move forward. The Community 
Reinvestment Act is a landmark civil rights and anti-redlining law 
created to improve the welfare of low- and moderate-income Americans 
all over our Nation and to assess banks lending to, investing in, and 
serving of the communities in which they do business.
  The Community Reinvestment Act works. Since its enactment in 1977, it 
has resulted in trillions of dollars invested in low- and moderate-
income communities. It promotes fair treatment and equal access to 
credit and capital for Black and Brown communities, for underserved 
populations, and it is essential to the economic health of our country. 
It is a successful incentive for banks to provide mortgage lending and 
financial services to neighborhoods of color and low- and moderate-
income communities.
  There is a long legacy of racial discrimination in our Nation in 
financial services, and the Community Reinvestment Act has been a vital 
tool in helping to fight that cruel legacy. In Delaware, I have seen 
the benefits of the CRA firsthand. I have seen investments in 
affordable housing, homeownership opportunities, and economic and small 
business development as a result.
  Discover Bank, for example, partnered with the Delaware State Housing 
Authority to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income borrowers 
throughout the State by purchasing loans. WSFA made a $1.5 million 
investment in NCALL's Restoring Central Dover Initiative and a $500,000 
line of credit to help build homes for new homeowners who were low- and 
moderate-income and gave a $1 million low-interest loan for economic 
development in our capital city. Capital One recently made a $20 
million loan to finance the community education building in downtown 
Wilmington where Kuumba Academy is residing.
  The OCC final rule is wrong in substance and in process. The CRA has 
been beneficial for more than four decades. Sure, there is some room 
for modernization or improvement, and it is necessary to continue to 
build on this monumental act, but the OCC final rule goes in exactly 
the wrong direction. In substance, it is unlikely to encourage 
investment in underresourced and overlooked regions. Instead, it 
expands qualifying CRA activities to include ones that don't directly 
benefit communities in need. This OCC rule will cause harm to current 
investment areas, leading to less community development in Delaware and 
across our Nation.
  The OCC rule would allow banks to pass their CRA assessments with 
broad-stroke, large investments instead of smaller, targeted 
investments in underserved communities. In process, the OCC hasn't 
worked to achieve consensus with fellow Federal regulators, the Fed and 
the FDIC, nor with banks, community advocacy, and civil rights groups. 
That is why I am joining my colleagues from New Jersey, Ohio, and many 
other States in voting for congressional disapproval of this OCC final 
rule. It undermines and actively weakens this important civil rights 
law. We must ensure changes to the CRA strengthen the law, not weaken 
it, and all the related regulators and stakeholders must work together 
to ensure that any changes to the CRA work to combat racial inequality 
and to lift up communities long overlooked by traditional banking and 
their investment priorities.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, today, I rise to urge my colleagues to 
take a stand for civil rights and basic financial fairness and join us 
in defense of the Community Reinvestment Act. I appreciate my 
distinguished colleagues from Delaware and the ranking Democrat on the 
Banking Committee, Senator Brown, for their remarks.
  For more than four decades now, this core civil rights law has helped 
ensure that banks that do business in our low- and moderate-income 
communities actually invest--invest--in those communities. Before the 
Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA, as it is called, banks often 
avoided lending to customers and businesses in the lower income 
neighborhoods where they opened branches. This practice was known as 
redlining because, back then, banks would draw literal red lines around 
the communities that they did not want to lend money to. Not 
surprisingly, the communities that were redlined were African American, 
Latino, and low-income communities.

  In essence, they were content to take the deposits from low- and 
moderate-income families, people of color, small businesses, and farms, 
but then they turned around and denied those very customers mortgages, 
loans, and other lines of credit.
  The Community Reinvestment Act was enacted to put an end to that 
redlining and spur greater investment in our minority communities and 
lower income neighborhoods. But even today, we are still grappling with 
the socioeconomic and racial consequences of this systemic financial 
discrimination.

[[Page S6057]]

Many of our most impoverished neighborhoods are the same neighborhoods 
that were redlined decades ago. It is one of the reasons that the 
generational wealth of Black and Brown Americans remains drastically 
lesser than those of their White counterparts. That is why we have to 
reject the Trump administration's proposed rule changes to the 
Community Reinvestment Act.
  The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's--the OCC--CRA new 
rule would result in significantly fewer loans, investments, and 
services to low- and moderate-income communities, and it would permit 
banks to avoid businesses and investments in these neighborhoods. In 
essence, it would lead to a new form of modern-day redlining, all with 
the Federal Government's blessing. It is no wonder why civil rights 
groups, including the NAACP and the Leadership Council on Civil and 
Human Rights, have fought so hard against this rule. They do not want 
banks to be given the green light to discriminate against minority and 
low-income consumers. Make no mistake--industry stakeholders and 
regulators are just as divided over the Trump administration's actions. 
That is why, in fact, neither the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 
nor the Federal Reserve has joined in this effort. Neither of them has 
joined in this effort.
  That is why I urge our colleagues to do the right thing and repeal 
this harmful new CRA rule.
  In a year where the entrenched racial and economic disparities that 
have long plagued our Nation have been exacerbated and on full display, 
the last thing we need to do is to steer money away from Black and 
Brown families, homeowners, consumers, and businesses. As a matter of 
fact, in the midst of this pandemic, we can see the consequences to 
those communities that are often at the frontline of mortgage 
foreclosure and losing their homes.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in rejecting this new CRA rule. This 
is about protecting civil rights. This is about protecting economic 
opportunity for all. And this is about continuing to do the hard work 
of reversing the discrimination, the financial disparities, and the 
socioeconomic injustices that have plagued our Nation for far too long.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho is recognized
  Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I rise to oppose the resolution vacating 
the OCC's final rule on the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA.
  Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks has noted: ``The new 
Community Reinvestment Act rule was finalized for one reason--to 
promote more lending and investment in underserved areas--including 
low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.''
  The key changes the rule makes are these: It clarifies what counts 
for CRA credit, updates where activity is evaluated, evaluates CRA 
performance more objectively, and makes record-keeping and reporting 
timelier and more transparent.
  The OCC's efforts to improve the CRA framework began in 2017 with an 
extensive and deliberate process, engaging numerous stakeholders along 
the way. The OCC issued its advance notice of proposed rulemaking in 
2018, and in December 2019, the OCC jointly issued a proposed rule with 
the FDIC, which received 7,500 comments. The OCC says those comments 
made it better and significantly different from the proposal.
  The status quo was failing. The OCC found that the regulatory status 
quo had failed to improve economic outcomes for underserved groups, 
including minorities and low- and moderate-income communities.
  The CRA regulatory process was broken. Acting Comptroller Brooks 
stated:

       In addition to not achieving the societal goals of the 
     statute, the regulatory process around CRA was broken. Banks 
     and stakeholders were uncertain of what activities would 
     qualify for CRA consideration from exam to exam. The 
     framework's lack of objectivity, transparency, consistency, 
     and fairness left the whole process open to sweetheart deals 
     and made it nearly impossible to assess the impact of 
     billions of dollars that were spent each year. Stakeholders 
     have voiced the need to update the CRA regulations now for 
     more than a decade.

  What does the final rule do? The final rule establishes objective 
criteria for determining and an illustrative list of what qualifies for 
CRA credit, while also creating a preapproval process for banks. It 
updates and expands assessment areas to better reflect how banks serve 
customers today by adding deposit-based assessment areas. It also 
incentivizes CRA activity in new areas of need, including Indian 
Country and rural and distressed areas. The final rule establishes new 
general performance standards to more objectively evaluate a bank's CRA 
performance. Finally, the rule requires banks to report better data to 
improve the transparency and accountability of banks and their 
regulators to their communities.
  Importantly, the rule does not change the OCC's authority or 
obligation to fight discrimination and illegal practices.
  Several organizations have praised the final rule, including the 
Consumer Bankers Association, the National Disability Institute, the 
National Congress of American Indians, and the National Diversity 
Coalition.
  FDIC Chairman McWilliams noted: ``There are many provisions in the 
final rule that will greatly benefit low- and moderate-income 
communities, and provide greater clarity to banks on CRA 
expectations.''
  Last month, the Federal Reserve issued its own advance notice of 
proposed rulemaking, and Acting Comptroller Brooks observed that 
``there is a significant amount of overlap between what the Fed has 
proposed and what the OCC has finalized.''
  The OCC issued this rule in May. Senate Democrats have waited until 
the end of the Congressional Review Act window to act, timing this vote 
to be most disruptive to the Senate's floor schedule. More importantly, 
this vote comes after the rule's effective date of October 1. Voiding 
it would create confusion and uncertainty for communities, industry, 
and other stakeholders, harming the very communities the CRA would 
help.
  Acting Comptroller Brooks said it well:

       Overturning the OCC's new CRA rule would roll back benefits 
     to Native Americans, people with disabilities, American 
     farmers, and small business owners. It would preserve a 
     status quo that on its face has failed to make the progress 
     promised 43 years ago. It would force banks, communities 
     groups, and examiners to operate in the dark without the 
     transparency, objectivity, and regulatory certainty that the 
     new rule provides. It would also prevent future Comptrollers 
     from taking up the rule to improve how CRA works in the 
     future.

  Additionally, former Comptroller Joseph Otting wrote:

       The coronavirus pandemic has only made it more dire that 
     communities--particularly low- and moderate-income 
     communities--need more capital and better access to capital. 
     And they need it now.

  I urge my colleagues to join me in voting against this resolution, to 
preserve this important modernization of our CRA regulations.
  Thank you.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the vote scheduled for 
5:45 p.m. begin immediately.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arizona (Ms. McSally), the Senator from Alaska (Ms. Murkowski), 
the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Paul), and the Senator from Florida (Mr. 
Rubio).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Ms. Harris), 
the Senator from Alabama (Mr. Jones), the Senator from Virginia (Mr. 
Kaine), the Senator from Washington (Mrs. Murray), and the Senator from 
Arizona (Ms. Sinema) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 43, nays 48, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 201 Leg.]

                                YEAS--43

     Baldwin
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Booker
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Collins
     Coons
     Cortez Masto
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Gillibrand
     Hassan
     Heinrich
     Hirono
     King
     Klobuchar

[[Page S6058]]


     Leahy
     Manchin
     Markey
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Murphy
     Peters
     Reed
     Rosen
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Smith
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                                NAYS--48

     Alexander
     Barrasso
     Blackburn
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Braun
     Burr
     Capito
     Cassidy
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Cramer
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Fischer
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hawley
     Hoeven
     Hyde-Smith
     Inhofe
     Johnson
     Kennedy
     Lankford
     Lee
     Loeffler
     McConnell
     Moran
     Perdue
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Romney
     Rounds
     Sasse
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
     Shelby
     Sullivan
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Wicker
     Young

                             NOT VOTING--9

     Harris
     Jones
     Kaine
     McSally
     Murkowski
     Murray
     Paul
     Rubio
     Sinema
  The motion was rejected.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.


                           Motion to Adjourn

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, our Republican majority refused to 
consider the Supreme Court nominee of the duly elected Democratic 
President on the supposed principle that the American people should 
have a voice in selecting their next Supreme Court Justice. Now they 
are moving forward with a Supreme Court nomination while the 
Presidential election is already under way.
  This is the most rushed, most partisan, least legitimate Supreme 
Court nomination process in our Nation's history--in our Nation's 
entire history--and it should not proceed. Therefore, I will move to 
adjourn the Senate until after the November 3 election with the ability 
to come back into session if there is a bipartisan agreement on a COVID 
relief package.
  Therefore, I move to adjourn and then convene for pro forma sessions 
only, with no business being conducted, at 12 noon on the following 
dates, and that, following each pro forma session, the Senate adjourn 
until the next pro forma session: Tuesday, October 20; Friday, October 
23; Tuesday, October 27; Friday, October 30; Tuesday, November 3; 
Friday, November 6; that when the Senate adjourns on Friday, November 
6, it reconvene at 4:30 p.m., Monday, November 9, and that following 
the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the Journal 
of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be 
reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be 
closed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. That motion would require consent and is not 
in order.


                            Motion to Table

  Mr. SCHUMER. I appeal the ruling of the Chair, and I move to table 
the appeal.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on the motion to table the 
appeal.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  Mr. BOOZMAN. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), the Senator from Arizona (Ms. McSally), the 
Senator from Alaska (Ms. Murkowski), the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. 
Paul), and the Senator from Florida (Mr. Rubio).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Ms. Harris), 
the Senator from Alabama (Mr. Jones), the Senator from Virginia (Mr. 
Kaine), the Senator from Washington (Mrs. Murray), and the Senator from 
Arizona (Ms. Sinema) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 48, nays 42, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 202 Leg.]

                                YEAS--48

     Alexander
     Barrasso
     Blackburn
     Boozman
     Braun
     Burr
     Capito
     Cassidy
     Collins
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Cramer
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Fischer
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hawley
     Hoeven
     Hyde-Smith
     Inhofe
     Johnson
     Kennedy
     Lankford
     Lee
     Loeffler
     McConnell
     Moran
     Perdue
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Romney
     Rounds
     Sasse
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
     Shelby
     Sullivan
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Wicker
     Young

                                NAYS--42

     Baldwin
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Booker
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Coons
     Cortez Masto
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Gillibrand
     Hassan
     Heinrich
     Hirono
     King
     Klobuchar
     Leahy
     Manchin
     Markey
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Murphy
     Peters
     Reed
     Rosen
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Smith
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                             NOT VOTING--10

     Blunt
     Harris
     Jones
     Kaine
     McSally
     Murkowski
     Murray
     Paul
     Rubio
     Sinema
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The motion to table was agreed to, and the 
decision of the Chair stands.
  The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I am glad we just voted down the motion 
by the Democratic leader to adjourn because we have work to do here, 
including the COVID-19 legislation that we need to be here to be 
working on. So I am glad the motion to table was successful. And, yes, 
we also have to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.


                        Tribute to John Ruthven

  Mr. President, I have come to the floor today to pay tribute to John 
Ruthven, a beloved son of Ohio who passed away last week at the age of 
95.
  John Ruthven was a nationally recognized wildlife artist and a 
naturalist whose extraordinary artistic skills earned him numerous 
awards and other recognitions. But it was John's integrity, his 
humility, his generosity, and personal warmth that led to so many 
admirers.
  John never met a stranger, and even in these strident times, John 
never had an enemy. He was an eternal optimist who looked for the best 
in people and in doing so, brought out the best in everyone.
  John was a true son of Ohio who grew up in Cincinnati and, as a boy, 
was often found fishing and hunting and sketching along the Ohio River. 
He was a lifelong patriot who was very proud of his country and proud 
of having served his country as an 18-year-old sailor during World War 
II. He was generous of spirit and generous in giving back to his 
community, contributing his time and artwork to literally hundreds of 
good causes.
  John loved his family--his kids, Ricki and Kevin; his grandsons, Adam 
and Matt; and his great-grandsons, William, Jack, and Michael. He lost 
the love of his life, Judy, just under a decade ago. They were 
inseparable, and they are now together.
  My wife Jane and I feel John's presence every day through his artwork 
that hangs on our walls at home and at work. Here in my Washington, DC, 
office, we displayed his painting ``Eagle to the Moon,'' for the past 
decade, a masterpiece of natural painting signed not just by John but 
also John's good friend, the famous astronaut Neil Armstrong.
  Each Ruthven painting has its own story, and ``Eagle to the Moon'' is 
no exception. Ohio Governor James Rhodes had commissioned John to paint 
an eagle on the Moon in honor of the Apollo 11 mission and Neil 
Armstrong's famous words, ``The eagle has landed.'' John told the 
Governor there were no eagles on the Moon, and as a naturalist painter, 
he refused to place one there. Governor Rhodes insisted, so John--
always a peacemaker--found a compromise. He painted a majestic bald 
eagle flying past an Ohio buckeye tree--tying the eagle, therefore, to 
the Earth and to Ohio--and put a glowing Moon in the background to 
please Governor Rhodes. The Governor could not say no to such a 
beautiful portrayal, and it is beautiful.
  His paintings are displayed in the statehouse in Columbus and in 
thousands of offices and living rooms all across Ohio and beyond. You 
will see his work when strolling through my hometown of Cincinnati, 
where the side of a downtown building displays a three-story high mural 
dedicated to Martha, the last passenger pigeon who died at the 
Cincinnati Zoo. At age 88, high on a rickety scaffolding in the August 
heat, John Ruthven led the volunteers in creating that rendition of 
passenger pigeons, taking it from one of

[[Page S6059]]

his paintings. Those passenger pigeons, once numerous and now extinct, 
are soaring through the air in a thick flock, warning us all of the 
fragility of nature.
  I will always feel John's presence personally when I am in the woods 
of Southern Ohio, where I had the privilege of spending many hours with 
him hunting for edible wild mushrooms, hunting turkeys, and learning 
from an accomplished naturalist who had stories about every single 
tree, flower, and bird. It was a joy to learn from John. It wasn't a 
lecture; like every good teacher, John drew you in.
  John was called a modern-day James Audubon, and there were striking 
similarities between the two. Both were naturalists, good hunters, 
artists, and authors whose work was influential in teaching us about 
the natural world. Like Audubon, John was rightly recognized as one of 
the most important ambassadors for nature of his time.
  Starting with his delivery of a hummingbird to the Cincinnati Museum 
of Natural History at age 10, his name is on specimens he collected 
around the world and donated to museums. Four Presidents commissioned 
painters from John Ruthven, and his artwork is hung in the galleries of 
the Smithsonian and right here in the Halls of Congress.
  Early in his career, John had the great honor of being selected as 
the artist for the annual Federal duck stamp. He has been featured in 
many major magazines and documentaries. He received numerous awards and 
honors, including from some of his favorite organizations like the 
Cincinnati Zoo, the Cincinnati Nature Center, the Museum Center, and so 
many others.
  One accolade John was most proud of was when he and his wife Judy 
were inducted into the Brown County Hall of Fame. Judy and John had a 
beautiful farm and an art gallery in Brown County, 50 miles east of 
Cincinnati. They developed lifelong friendships there and dedicated 
time and energy to their adopted home, leading to the restoration of 
the historic courthouse in Georgetown, OH, and preserving and promoting 
the boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant, one of John's heroes.
  In 2004, I was with John and President George W. Bush at the White 
House when he became the first wildlife artist ever to receive the 
National Medal of the Arts, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon 
an artist.
  Until his death, John continued to paint every day at his home 
studio. He still had a number of commissions he was working on. For 
countless young artists and lovers of nature, he was and will continue 
to be a true inspiration.
  As we mourn our loss, we take heart in knowing that we will all 
continue to feel his presence, that John Ruthven will live on through 
his masterful artwork, his loving family, and all he did to advance the 
cause of appreciating and protecting the natural world.
  I yield the floor.

                          ____________________