U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown: Combatting fentanyl, and holding banks accountable

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2023

This week, we made major progress on two bipartisan bills to make our communities safer and our economy fairer.

I chair the Senate Banking and Housing Committee, and this week we unanimously advanced the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, to impose new, more powerful, sanctions targeting the illicit fentanyl supply chain – from the chemical suppliers in China to the cartels that traffic the drugs from Mexico.

Over the last two months I’ve been all over Ohio, talking with law enforcement and local advocates about what a difference this bill will make in helping stop the flow of dangerous fentanyl into our communities.

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We have built a large, diverse coalition pushing for this bill – we have the support of sheriffs and police officers and leaders in the addiction treatment community. Nearly two thirds of the Senate has signed on as cosponsors. I’ll be pushing to get this voted on in the Senate soon, and signed into law, to get Ohioans on the frontlines of the addiction crisis the support they need.

This week we also advanced the RECOUP Act with overwhelming bipartisan support –  my bill with Ranking Member Tim Scott in response to the bank failures this spring, to impose real consequences on bank executives who gamble with customers’ money.

Executives at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank pushed their banks to grow too big, too fast. They made risky bets. And they put people’s money at risk, including small businesses in Ohio.

It’s the Wall Street business model: executives put short-term profits – and their own compensation – above everything else. Ohio small businesses and workers should not be forced to pay the price for other people’s risky bets that don’t pay off, whether they’re on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley. We want to ensure that bank executives will face real accountability for gambling with customers’ money.

Our bill would increase and strengthen penalties against bad actors, require banks to adopt corporate governance and accountability standards and provide new authority to ban or remove executives who fail to appropriately oversee and manage their banks.

To most Americans, the lack of Wall Street accountability tracks with their entire experience with our economy. Workers face the consequences for bad decisions made in corporate boardrooms. The executives who made those decisions ride off into the sunset.

Ohioans will never forget that, by and large, the Wall Street executives who caused the 2008 financial crisis didn’t face any consequences. Their profits and bonuses weren’t clawed back.

We cannot — we will not — let that happen again.

Both of these bills are priorities to address real challenges I hear about from Ohioans. We need an economy that works for everyone – not just powerful bank CEOs – and we need to do more to stem the flow of dangerous, illegal fentanyl into our communities.

Sherrod Brown is a Democrat and the senior U.S. senator representing Ohio. His office can be reached at 202-224-2315.