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U.S. bank CEOs set for congressional grilling by Democrats and Republicans

·2 min read

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - The chief executives of JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and other major U.S. banks are set to be grilled by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Wednesday on the economy, consumer protections and the lenders' stance on fossil fuel lending and firearms, among other issues.

In testimony before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, the CEOs will tout their financial strength, role in distributing billions of dollars in COVID-19 pandemic-related aid and efforts both to boost lending in poorer communities and diversity within their ranks, according to statements released on Tuesday ahead of the hearing.

The CEOs due to testify include the heads of the four largest U.S. banks: JPMorgan Chase & Co's Jamie Dimon, Wells Fargo's Charles Scharf, Bank of America's Brian Moynihan and Citigroup's Jane Fraser. They are set to be joined by US Bancorp CEO Andy Cecere, PNC Financial CEO William Demchak and Truist's Bill Rogers, who run the country's largest regional lenders.

While such hearings rarely result in legislative action, they are still risky for CEOs, who will be forced to defend their banks on a number of fronts at a time when lawmakers are looking to boost their profiles ahead of November elections in which control of Congress is at stake.

The CEOs of the largest U.S. lenders have "clearly demonstrated the strength and resilience of their firms, their commitment to employees and customers, and the work of their institutions in support of key parts of the economy," said Kevin Fromer, CEO of the Financial Services Forum, which represents the nation's largest banks.

Democrats are likely to press bank executives on fees, the closure of bank branches in poorer areas and how banks are addressing fraudulent transactions.

Executives are also expecting heightened criticism from Republicans, who have grown frustrated with what they see as Wall Street's increasingly liberal leanings on environment and social issues. Some large banks have adopted policies that some Republicans say amount to boycotts of certain industries such as fossil fuels and firearms. Banks dispute that characterization.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; editing by Michelle Price and Will Dunham)