ICBA Press Release Banner 2020

Executives highlighted for leading community bank advocacy in Washington

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 2, 2021) — 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 2021 list of the top influencers in the nation. This is the fourth consecutive appearance for both Romero Rainey, who assumed the role of ICBA’s top lobbyist in May 2018, and for ICBA congressional relations team leader Paul Merski.

“Representing the nation’s community banks and being recognized by The Hill for ICBA’s efforts to advance pro-community bank policies is a privilege, particularly with so many pressing advocacy issues before Washington policymakers,” Romero Rainey said. “As a former community banker, I am honored to represent our industry and our members, who have showcased their resiliency and strength throughout the pandemic to support small businesses and local communities nationwide.”

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 role of ICBA president and CEO 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).

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 adviser to Sen. 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 an economist for the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“I share this honor with Rebeca and ICBA’s entire congressional and government relations team,” Merski said. “Working in step with our state allies and volunteer bankers, we have 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:

  • Keeping the widely opposed IRS bank reporting plan out of the House-passed reconciliation bill.
  • Ensuring the omission of several anti-community banking tax provisions from the House reconciliation bill.
  • Raising congressional concerns about Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova’s nomination to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
  • Endorsing a community bank exemption from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposal to implement Dodd-Frank Section 1071 data collection and reporting requirements for small-business lending.
  • Convincing policymakers to suspend harmful provisions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements.
  • Helping to eliminate the Federal Housing Finance Agency's Adverse Market Refinance Fee.
  • Continuing ICBA’s “Wake Up” campaign on the credit union tax exemption.
  • Successfully urging the OCC to reconsider its Community Reinvestment Act final rule and work with other regulators on a joint rulemaking.
  • Achieving an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program ahead of its March 31 deadline and simplifying the PPP forgiveness process.
  • Helping convince the FDIC to explore extending higher regulatory asset thresholds to reflect the impact of the pandemic.
  • Advancing bipartisan House passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which would establish a cannabis banking safe harbor.
  • Supporting House and Senate introduction of the ECORA Act, which offers tax relief for farm real estate and rural mortgage loans.

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 $5.8 trillion in assets, over $4.8 trillion in deposits, and more than $3.5 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.