Financial Services Committee Passes Grayson-Himes Legislation to Tie Pay to Performance for TARP Recipients
The Financial Services Committee today passed H.R. 1664, the Grayson-Himes Pay for Performance Act of 2009, that would prohibit certain compensation payments by companies that have received direct capital investments under the TARP program and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act until these investments are repaid. Specifically, the bill prohibits any compensation payments that are unreasonable or excessive, restricts all non-performance based bonuses, and effectively repeals a controversial provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Committee passed the legislation by a vote of 38-22.
“This bill is based on two simple concepts. One, no one has the right to get rich off taxpayer money. And two, no one should get rich off abject failure," said Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL). "An economy in which a bank executive can line his own pocket by destroying his company with risky bets is an economy that will spiral downwards. And a government that hands out money to such executives is a government that fails to protect the taxpayers."
“Given the legislative process and the Administration’s desire to get this bill done before the recess to speed funds into the economy, Congress made a mistake. We have, fortunately, a process for correcting mistakes which is subsequent legislation. We have now acted very promptly and if this bill passes the House and the Senate then the mistake will have had no effect,” said Chairman Frank.
“We need regulation that aligns the public’s interest with the health of financial institutions,” said Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT). “This responsible legislation will help ensure accountability for taxpayers and shareholders and encourage good performance while keeping employee pay a matter of measurable job performance rather than public opinion.”
The bill adds new compensation/bonus restrictions to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act for financial institutions that receive or have received a direct capital investment by the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program or the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (which covers Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks). While such a capital investment is outstanding, and regardless of when a compensation payment arrangement was entered into, recipients of a direct capital investment from the Treasury would be prohibited from:
The bill would require the Treasury Secretary to consult with the Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel and obtain approval of the agencies that are members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council before defining unreasonable or excessive compensation and establishing performance-based measures.
The bill also would provide that the restrictions on bonuses of highly-compensated employees, adopted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, would apply while a direct capital investment under TARP remains outstanding, regardless of when the arrangement to pay such bonus was entered into. This provision is intended to effectively repeal a provision that currently exempts from the prohibition’s coverage bonuses that are due under employment contracts entered on or before February 11, 2009.
Finally, the bill would require a financial institution that is subject to the new compensation requirements to submit an annual report to the Treasury Secretary stating how many executives and employees received or will receive total compensation above specified dollar amounts during the fiscal year.
The legislation is now being forwarded to the full House for consideration, which could come as early as next week.