Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah plan to introduce a bill today that attempts to unravel the Justice Department’s controversial program Operation Choke Point, The Daily Signal has exclusively learned.
“Under President Obama’s reign, the DOJ has abandoned its longstanding tradition of staying out of politics and has instead become a partisan arm of the White House,” Cruz said. “The Obama administration initiated Operation Choke Point to punish law-abiding small businesses that don’t align with the president’s political leanings. The DOJ should not be abusing its power by trying to bankrupt American citizens for exercising their constitutional rights.”
The bill, called the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, bans federal agencies that oversee banks from requesting or ordering banks to terminate customer accounts “unless the regulator has material reason.”
The measure also requires banking regulators to put in writing any “formal or informal” requests for account termination, and requires those regulators to file an annual report to Congress regarding those requests. To scale back Operation Choke Point or any similar initiatives, the bill also amends the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.
Under Operation Choke Point, critics believe that government officials abused their authority by pressuring banks to close down the accounts of entire industries the Obama administration doesn’t like, such as firearms sellers and payday lenders.
“Our right to bear arms—a right granted by God and protected by the Constitution—is fundamental to the protection of all our other rights,” Lee told The Daily Signal in a statement. “An executive branch bent on taking away this right, through any administrative means necessary, is a danger to all Americans. That is why I am proud to co-sponsor the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, which would end the federal government’s ability to abuse financial regulations to target firearm proprietors like they did during Operation Choke Point.”