Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) on Friday introduced a bill that would subject the Financial Accounting Standards Board to the rulemaking guidelines of federal financial regulators.
The Responsible Accounting Standards Act would apply the Administrative Procedures Act to the independently operated Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), which oversees FASB. The Administrative Procedures Act requires regulators to make proposed rules available for public comment, use feedback to form a final rule, and perform a cost benefit analysis if a rule is considered “economically significant.”
In an op-ed published by The Hill, Luetkemeyer specifically cited CECL, FASB’s controversial standard requiring companies to transition to a “current expected credit losses” approach, as a standard that should have been subject to the additional scrutinies laid out in the Administrative Procedures Act.
“This legislation would require FAF to consider the impact their accounting principles will have on the U.S. economy, market stability, and availability of credit—something FASB has admitted to me they did not consider while promulgating CECL,” Luetkemeyer wrote. “This bill will not take away FASB’s independence, but it will force them to perform the due diligence they have proven unwilling to do.”
Luetkemeyer, a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, describes CECL as the “largest change in accounting since 2009.”
“While FASB will vigorously argue that CECL has been years in the making, members of the board have also admitted there has not been, nor will there be, an economic impact study performed despite repeated warnings that the procyclical nature of CECL will have similar effects to mark-to-market in a downturn,” Luetkemeyer wrote.
Luetkemeyer is not the first lawmaker to target FASB and CECL with legislation. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in May introduced a bill to require the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies to study the economic effects of the accounting standard before it would be allowed to go into effect. That bill has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Banks have also appealed to FASB and the government to delay CECL implementation until a proper impact study can be completed. Since then, two board members of the Federal Reserve released a study suggesting CECL concern is not as great as big banks seem to fear, noting the standard would “modestly affect bank lending in a way that dampens fluctuations.”
FASB was pleased by the results of that study, while the American Bankers Association still expressed dissatisfaction.
CECL, codified in Accounting Standards Codification Topic 326, is expected to take effect by Jan. 1, 2020, for calendar-year public companies that file with the SEC. A recent proposal to delay the standard to January 2023 would only affect smaller reporting companies as defined by the SEC, public business entities that are not SEC filers, and all private entities.