Nation stands at ‘critical crossroad,’ Harper tells Senate committee

Speaking during a confirmation hearing before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Thursday, Todd Harper, NCUA board chairman, talked about his experiences in the financial industry and the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Harper said that his broad banking, insurance, and securities legislation and regulation experience has given him a broad knowledge of financial services policy and a deep understanding of the many issues facing the nation’s $2 trillion credit union system.

Harper joined the three-person NCUA board in April 2019 and is the first NCUA staffer to become a board member and chairman. The only Democrat on the board, Harper was named chairman following Joe Biden’s inauguration as president. He is currently serving in a “holdover” status because the term he was serving officially ended in April.

Harper replaced Republican Rodney Hood as chairman, whose board term runs until 2023 and who also served on the NCUA board from 2005-2010. Also a Republican, Kyle Hauptman’s term runs through Aug. 2, 2025.

Harper said that his experience in working through several financial crises has “informed” his regulatory philosophy. “Independent regulators, like the NCUA, need to be fair and forward looking; innovative and inclusive; risk focused and ready to act when needed; and engaged appropriately with all stakeholders to develop effective regulation and efficient supervision.”

He said that if he is confirmed, he will continue focusing on credit union members, the system’s resilience and strength, and the NCUA’s readiness to address expected increases in credit defaults as pandemic-relief programs end. He said he will also continue prioritizing capital and liquidity, cybersecurity, consumer financial protection, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Our nation stands at a critical crossroad,” he said. “We should pursue a path that will strengthen the system of cooperative credit, increase access to affordable credit in underserved communities, and create greater economic stability for families. My experience, knowledge and dedication has well prepared me to navigate that road.”

Following Harper’s statement, at least one Republican senator questioned him whether it might be a “worthwhile idea” to expand the board, with Harper not outright rejecting the idea, saying that there are some “upsides” to expanding the panel – now with three members – to one with five members, according to Regulatory Report.

Harper’s full statement is available on the NCUA website.

Leave a Reply