ICBA Press Release Banner 2020

Executives highlighted for spearheading community bank issues before Washington policymakers

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 10, 2020) —Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey and ICBA Group Executive Vice President of Congressional Relations and Strategy Paul Merski are featured on The Hill’s 2020 list of the top influencers in the nation. This is the third consecutive appearance for Romero Rainey, who assumed the mantle as ICBA’s top lobbyist in May of 2018, and for ICBA congressional relations team leader Paul Merski. 
“It’s a privilege to represent the nation’s community banks and to be recognized by the Hill for ICBA’s efforts to advance pro-community bank policies—particularly during these unprecedented times when it’s critical that Washington policymakers understand and support the efforts of community banks as financial first responders to local communities,” said Romero Rainey. “As a former community banker, it’s my honor to represent our industry and our members who have showcased their resiliency and strength this year in helping local customers—including many small businesses—weather these challenging times.” 

A third-generation community banker born and raised in Taos, N.M., Romero Rainey is the former chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos. Upon graduating from Wellesley College, she returned home to Taos with the dream of continuing her family’s business of running the town’s only local community bank. She served in several ICBA volunteer leadership capacities, including ICBA chairman, before assuming the helm at ICBA in 2018 when the nation’s community banks achieved substantial regulatory relief with the landmark passage of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155). She has met with President Obama and President Trump to discuss issues that are top of mind for community banks.
Merski has more than 30 years of experience in legislative and economic policy development and analysis for some of the most prominent organizations in Washington, D.C. Before joining ICBA, Merski served on Capitol Hill as the chief economist for the Joint Economic Committee and as senior tax and banking policy advisor to Senator Connie Mack (R-Fla.). Merski also was director of fiscal policy for Citizens for a Sound Economy, director of fiscal affairs for the Tax Foundation and served as an economist for the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

“I share this honor with Rebeca and the entire congressional and government relations team,” Merski said. “Working in step with our state allies and volunteer bankers we ensured the positive story of community banking resonated with elected officials, driving meaningful legislation for the benefit of local communities.”  

ICBA and community banker-led outreach was instrumental this year in forging the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program and contributed to several notable successes, including: 

  • $60 billion in PPP funding dedicated to community bank lending to small businesses.
  • Securing more favorable loan terms and a Federal Reserve liquidity facility for PPP lending.
  • Current Expected Credit Loss, community bank leverage ratio, troubled debt restructuring, and tax relief.
  • Stopping tax-subsidized credit unions’ legislation to raise their business-lending cap.
  • Advancing beneficial ownership reporting relief.
  • Regulatory asset threshold relief related to PPP lending.
  • Delayed implementation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan fees.
  • Higher asset thresholds for the OCC's Community Reinvestment Act final rule, elimination of the Fed’s Reg D account transfer restrictions, and the codification of the "valid when made" doctrine.
  • Fed adoption of a phased approach to the launch of FedNow to ensure quicker implementation. 


About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. ICBA is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services.

With nearly 50,000 locations nationwide, community banks constitute 99 percent of all banks, employ more than 700,000 Americans and are the only physical banking presence in one in three U.S. counties. Holding more than $5 trillion in assets, over $4.4 trillion in deposits, and more than $3.4 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community, community banks channel local deposits into the Main Streets and neighborhoods they serve, spurring job creation, fostering innovation and fueling their customers’ dreams in communities throughout America. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.