Senate Effort to Block “Operation Choke Point”
(Washington D.C.) – The Senate Budget Committee recently approved an amendment to the 2016 Budget resolution to end “Operation Choke Point,” a program run out of the Department of Justice that was initially intended to fight corruption. This amendment will be included as the Budget resolution goes forward to be debated by the entire Senate. Operation Choke Point is a program that was unilaterally put in place by the Obama Administration in 2013. It provides for higher scrutiny of banks and other financial institutions in the U.S. that do business with companies believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering. However, as a result of this program, legally operating companies are having their banking services cut off because the government has deemed their business disagreeable, without having shown that the targeted companies are actually acting in violation of the law. Reports indicate that small businesses operating legally have been hurt by the loss of access to financing and Capital . The Choke Point initiative was put in place with little public or Congressional review, but it is set to be scrutinized by Congress, with Capitol Hill hearings beginning this week.
Daniel Garza, Executive Director of the LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:
“It is outrageous that lawfully operating small businesses could see their access to Capital and financial services vanish at the whim of a government decision. This is another example of how government interference hurts economic prosperity. Law-abiding business owners are being denied service because banks are intimidated through this government program – one that was created and put in place with little public review or comment.
Programs like Operation Choke Point are a threat to any business, as there is no check on what the government deems “risky” or undesirable. This hurts the Hispanic community in particular as we are the second largest business owning demographic, and also customers of some of the businesses targeted. The government must not use its power to drive out legal entities that provide needed services to the Latino community, or that employ Latinos in need of economic opportunity. Legally operating businesses should succeed or fail based on consumer choice, not government intervention. We need clear and transparent rules, and an open debate, with proper opportunity for comment and analysis of the impact this program will have on communities and businesses. It should have happened before this initiative was put in place, but better late than never.”