By Zachary Warmbrodt
An increasingly important group of global insurance regulators on Saturday will vote to overhaul the way outsiders can access its meetings, and the move is riling policymakers and insurers in the United States who are complaining about a lack of transparency concerning how proposals for policing the industry are being created.
Little-known outside the insurance industry, the International Association of Insurance Supervisors in the last few years has been given the responsibility of helping identify “systemically important” insurance companies for increased regulation in the aftermath of the bailout of American International Group as well as for developing new regulatory standards for an even wider range of insurers.
Next year, the group plans to shutter a program where individuals and organizations can pay more than $20,000 to become “observers” at its meetings. These fees are used to help offset the group’s budget. IAIS officials argue that limiting observers under the current rules will make its work more efficient.
While the pay for access model has critics, the proposed trade-off isn’t satisfying insurers and U.S. lawmakers who argue that the group will be offering stakeholders less access to meetings as it rewrites fundamental safeguards for the insurance industry. That’s because, under the proposed rules, outsiders will have to be invited to provide “targeted, technical input” at meetings rather than generally being able to participate.
“The proposal … will render null and void my purpose for joining as an ‘observer’ and will greatly limit the ability of the IAIS to directly consult with and inform me and other systemic risk policymakers,” Financial Stability Oversight Council member Roy Woodall, the panel’s designated insurance expert, said in a comment letter to IAIS.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer, the Texas Republican who heads a House insurance subcommittee, is considering a hearing on IAIS this fall.
“Consumers and insurers deserve a voice at the table,” Neugebauer said Thursday. “To shut them out would be counterproductive to the health of the global financial system.”
IAIS, whose members are meeting in Amsterdam this week, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The stated mission of the group, which is comprised of regulators from around 140 countries, is to “promote effective and globally consistent supervision of the insurance industry.” IAIS formed in 1994 as a nonprofit in Springfield, Ill., and it later relocated to Basel, Switzerland, where a similar group focused on banking issues is located.
The group has grown in importance in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis due to efforts in many countries to put in place more oversight of large insurance companies and to coordinate these plans across different international jurisdictions.
U.S. representation at IAIS includes the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents state insurance regulators, and the Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. Most recently, the Federal Reserve joined the group after Dodd-Frank granted the U.S. central bank powers to oversee certain insurance companies.
IAIS has worked closely with another global group of regulators linked to the G20, the Financial Stability Board, to overhaul regulation of the insurance industry.
IAIS officials Thursday said they expected to receive the G20’s blessing next month on the first of a three-phase set of insurance capital standards. In addition, IAIS helped collect data on FSB’s upcoming reassessment of whether certain insurers and reinsurers should be labeled “systemically important.”
IAIS has made it on to lawmakers’ radar amid industry and state regulator concerns that the push at the international level will undermine the U.S. regulatory system or dictate what rules will be put in place.
Adding fuel to the fire Saturday, IAIS members meeting in Amsterdam will vote to discontinue the observer program next year. Next month, IAIS plans to take a second round of public comment on its new system for working with outside stakeholders.
Ahead of the vote, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the heads of the Federal Reserve, Treasury’s insurance office and the NAIC saying it was important that U.S. policy holders and companies have “an ability to contribute substantively via a transparent process.”
“Ending IAIS’ current funding model which requires interested parties to pay a significant annual fee in exchange for access to IAIS meetings, is a positive step forward,” Capuano said. “As you are no doubt aware, however, there is some considerable unease amongst U.S. insurance companies at the impact that other proposed changes could have on the transparency of the IAIS process and on the ability of stakeholders to provide meaningful and timely input.”
Woodall, who was involved with the inception of IAIS, is one of dozens of observers that will be impacted. Woodall is a voting member of FSOC, which is a U.S. panel of top financial regulators that has the power to designate domestic insurance companies as “systemically important.”
Woodall fills a seat on FSOC reserved for an insurance expert. FSOC isn’t a member of IAIS, but Woodall signed up as an IAIS observer at the beginning of this year. He has suggested that IAIS amend its bylaws to allow more cooperation with members of FSOC and other similar national bodies.
In his letter to IAIS, Woodall said the changes will “greatly limit” the ability of IAIS to consult with other officials working to contain systemic risks.
“Relegating systemic risk policymakers to only those opportunities afforded to the general public would reduce the likelihood of effective attainment of the IAIS goal of providing a meaningful contribution towards global financial stability,” he said. “Moreover, meetings in which financial stability policymakers are not afforded more robust access than that provided to the general public may negatively influence decisions to attend important IAIS meetings; and, as a result, opportunities to build vitally important relationships and consultations may be lost.”
FSOC, which mostly meets and votes in closed meetings, is also a target for lawmakers complaining about transparency.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Fed and Treasury are exporting the non-transparent FSOC model to IAIS,” Neugebauer said...
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, released the following statement after receiving the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) Leadership Division Trailblazer Award on October 21st at an IBAT Leadership Division regional luncheon in Lubbock:
“Independent community bankers in Texas work tirelessly on behalf of Texas families to provide affordable financial products that increase opportunity and enable so many to live the American Dream. Now more than ever, the good work these community bankers do is under assault from Washington’s runaway regulatory regime and the wave of burdensome and misguided Dodd-Frank regulations. If our economy is to reach its full potential, Washington needs to work with our community bankers and not against them.
“It’s a real honor to receive the Trailblazer Award and I will continue to be an advocate for community banks in the 19th Congressional District of Texas and all across America.”
Excerpts from the Independent Bankers Association of Texas press release recognizing Rep. Neugebauer:
The Trailblazer Award, which celebrates its 17th anniversary this year, provides special recognition to members of the U.S. Congress and Texas Legislature who are especially supportive of the independent community banking industry. Nominees must be a federal or state legislator, support and exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit of Texas, and exhibit the courage and independent spirit of Texas community bankers.
“Congressman Neugebauer ‘gets it.’ He understands the importance of community banking not only to our economy on a micro and macro basis, but also the role we play in fulfilling the hopes and dreams of our customers,” Steve Scurlock, executive vice president of IBAT, said. “He has a clear picture of our business and the unnecessary challenges we continue to face in recent years. The community banking industry and the constituents of Congressional District 19 are fortunate to have Randy serving in Congress.”
Recent past recipients of the Trailblazer Award include Texas Rep. Jose Menendez, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Rep. John Otto, U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards and U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans to implement Actual Production History (APH) crop insurance for Spring 2015 crops:
“Hardworking farmers in the 19th District of Texas have been plagued by severe drought and deserve immediate relief as intended by Congress in the Farm Bill. While I have been deeply frustrated with the delayed implementation of the APH adjustment, I welcome today’s news and applaud Secretary Vilsack for providing this much-needed relief for our producers. I look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack and my colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to see that the Farm Bill implementation process moves forward and meets the true needs of America’s farmers.”
Last month, Rep. Neugebauer questioned Secretary Vilsack on the APH implementation process at a House Agriculture Committee hearing and encouraged him to move forward as quickly as possible. Click here to watch the video.
Fighting Against Federal Overregulation of Texas WatersYou may remember this last spring when the EPA proposed a rule to expand their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act of 1972. The law lets them regulate “navigable waters of the United States,” but their proposed rule would expand that to include even runoff ditches and stock ponds on our private property. And for us in Texas, that means severe limits on farming, ranching, and construction. That means more top-down federal regulation that ignores local efforts.
I’ve been fighting this rule. I told you about my vote last month to prevent this EPA power-grab. It passed the House, but the Democratic-led Senate hasn’t even looked at the bill. The American people deserve better.
Last week, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce reviewed the rule and submitted their comment to the EPA in opposition. I applaud the Abilene Chamber for voicing their concerns and doing what is best for our local community.
And you can share your opinion too. EPA recently extended the rule’s comment period through November 14th, meaning they can’t finalize the rule until they’ve seen more input. You can submit your comment here.
Support for Travel Ban to Protect American Lives This recent outbreak of Ebola has been heartbreaking. There’s no question about that. It’s infected more than 8,800 patients, and taken more than 4,400 lives in West Africa. Here in Texas, we’ve seen firsthand how quickly the virus spreads and how devastating it can be.
The Obama Administration has been frustratingly slow to respond. What we need is immediate action and real leadership, to stop Ebola’s global impact, and to eliminate the threat here in America.
Last week, I joined 12 of my Texas colleagues in a letter to the President urging him to instate an immediate travel ban to America from the three Ebola-afflicted nations: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. This won’t eliminate all of the risk, but it will certainly help. To me, this is common sense. And many of you have shared your support too. Each day that goes by without this temporary travel ban, we put more American lives at risk.
While Ebola is certainly a concern to be taken seriously, we must also protect ourselves from a more common virus – the flu. Each year thousands of Americans die from the influenza virus. As this year’s flu season is almost upon us, I encourage everyone to take the necessary precautions to keep our families and our communities healthy.
A Reminder to High School Students…Remember, applications for a military academy nomination are due to my office by November 15th.Read More
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19) released the following statement after joining 12 other Members of Congress from Texas in urging the Obama Administration to instate an immediate ban on travel to America from the three nations afflicted with Ebola: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone:
“This recent outbreak of Ebola is tragic,” said Neugebauer. “But what’s equally upsetting is that the Administration is not currently doing everything in its power to protect the American people. I find that unacceptable.”
As of today, Ebola has already infected more than 8800 individuals and taken more than 4400 lives. There have been a total of three confirmed cases in the United States, and one death.
Neugebauer continued, “Here in Texas, we’ve have seen firsthand how dangerous Ebola is: one patient turned into three in a matter of days. Each day that goes by without this common sense travel ban, we put more Americans at risk.”
You can read the full letter to the Obama Administration here.
Home this Week in Texas It’s a busy week ahead catching up with folks in West Texas and the Big Country. Here’s a little preview of where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing: I appreciate that West Texas has such rich culture and diversity. I’m excited to stop by the Business Mercado in Lubbock to honor Hispanic heritage and support local Hispanic-run businesses and culture. This week is also the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic Heritage Luncheon and Texas Tech’s Celebrate Diversity Awards Banquet. In Texas, we’re lucky to have such rich culture to celebrate. I’m also proud to have such a strong agriculture industry in Texas. This week I’ll tour the over 60 years running Bamert Seed Company in Muleshoe. They sell over 200 species of native grasses, forbs, and legumes all over the country. I’ll also meet with the Plains Cotton Growers. I’m interested to hear their thoughts on the rollout of the Farm Bill so far and an update on the upcoming harvest, as well as any other issues impacting agriculture on their mind. I’ll also head over to Morton Lions Club this week to thank them for their service and discuss their legislative priorities. And then, of course, Dana and I will finish off the week by watching Tech beat Kansas on our home field. Wreck ‘em, Tech!
International Outlook I’m spending this week at home in Texas, but I’ll be closely following everything happening in the world. I’m still receiving a lot of information from folks in Washington, and my staff is still attending briefings on developing global issues. For instance, my staff has been in close communication with the Centers for Disease Control about the Ebola outbreak, and I had a conference call briefing on ISIL just last week. I expect there will be a few more too for those of us spending time in our districts. This is a 24/7 job. It’s an honor to represent you, and I want you to know I take my duties very seriously. I assure you I’m keeping up with all that’s going on so that I can make informed decisions to represent Texas’ 19th District.
October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month Each October, we honor all women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer as a part of a greater campaign to raise awareness. The most recent studies show that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime, and over 2100 men are diagnosed each year. The good news is these numbers have been decreasing. And awareness is an important part of that. I encourage everyone to become familiar with the early signs and to take part in regular screenings. As a cancer survivor myself, I know that early detection saved my life. My thoughts and prayers are with all who are currently battling breast cancer, as well as their loved ones and support systems.Read More
1424 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Randy Neugebauer proudly represents the 19th Congressional District of Texas, which stretches across 29 counties. He has offices in the cities of Abilene, Big Spring and Lubbock.
As one of the most conservative Members of Congress, Randy works to keep Washington accountable to hardworking American taxpayers by requiring commonsense spending and borrowing limits.
Randy was raised in West Texas, and he is a voice for traditional Texan values in Washington. Randy graduated from Texas Tech in 1972 with a degree in accounting. He went on to work in real estate management, eventually starting his own land development company.
As a small business owner, Randy knows first-hand the dedication and commitment it takes to own and manage a successful company. He also knows how government regulations can quickly deplete the resources of a small business, causing hard times for families and communities. Randy brings this businessman’s perspective to Congress where he advocates for reduced spending, fiscal discipline, free markets, and limited government.
Randy serves on three committees in the House of Representatives, where he can work on legislation that directly benefits his constituents. He is a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Additionally, he serves as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance.
As Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman, he’s working to reform the housing market, cut regulatory burdens, and shift risk away from American taxpayers and back into the private sector.
Randy’s legislative initiatives include eliminating wasteful federal spending, improving crop insurance, and supporting diverse domestic energy sources. He continues to work on legislation that will empower the constituents of the 19th Congressional District.
Randy’s support of conservative principles has been recognized by many groups and organizations. He has received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award, the Club for Growth Defender of Economic Freedom Award, and the Taxpayer’s Friend Award from the National Taxpayers Union. He has earned a 100% lifetime rating by National Right to Life. He has been recognized by National Journal as one of the six most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, Randy serves as an Assistant Republican Whip to House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Randy is married to his high school sweetheart, Dana, who is a Ropesville native. Together they have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and are the proud grandparents of three boys and one girl.
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If our economy is to reach its full potential, Washington needs to work with our community bankers and not against them. #4jobs
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Independent community bankers in Texas work tirelessly on behalf of Texas families to provide affordable financial products that increase opportunity
Each year, Senator Tom Coburn puts together a list of the most wasteful government spending. His 2014 Wastebook includes $25 billion of ridiculous
I welcome today’s news and appreciate United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack for providing this much-needed relief for our
I'm still fighting EPA's attempts to drastically expand their authority to regulate Texas waters, and now YOU can submit your comments to them
Here in Texas, we’ve have seen firsthand how dangerous Ebola is: one patient turned into three in a matter of days. So I joined my colleagues