Obenauer and Petersen: Breaking from the partisan pack to benefit North Dakota
Despite the political noise and partisan bickering from Washington, something very unusual just happened in the U.S. Senate. North Dakotans should know about it.
A bipartisan group of senators — 10 Republicans, 11 Democrats and one Independent — are sponsoring a bill to make the first substantial reforms to the nation's financial system since 2010.
The deal hasn't filled the front page of local newspapers but, if it can clear Congress, it promises to spur economic growth and job creation in North Dakota and other states.
North Dakotans should be rooting for this bill and the people who made it happen, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who was a key player in the negotiations and deserves a lot of credit for putting the agreement together. Heitkamp and her colleagues, including Republican Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo of Idaho, showed Congress can get things done when lawmakers of different parties work together to solve real problems.
Why should you care about this rare moment of bipartisan unity? Because the commonsense, targeted changes included in the bill will allow North Dakota banks to better serve our customers and communities.
Working with senators from both parties, Heitkamp forged a deal that will help banks give borrowers in Bismarck and throughout North Dakota a better opportunity to find and get the kind of mortgage they need to buy a home. It will allow more small business owners in Stanley and other North Dakota towns get a loan so they can expand and hire more workers. It will help bankers spend more time serving our customers and their needs instead of racking up hours a day working to comply with federal regulations that were supposed to apply only to far bigger, more complex banks.
Heitkamp knew important changes were needed because she has listened to North Dakota people and bankers about the problems they were facing serving their communities due to too many regulations that do not fit banks that operate in North Dakota.
North Dakotans should join with people across the country to support this bipartisan approach to solving problems and Heitkamp and other lawmakers who chose to get some ordinary Congressional work done, rather than simply following a partisan pack.
We have so many challenges ahead. If bipartisanship action can tackle much-needed changes in our financial system in a way that helps North Dakota, there is no reason Congress can't tackle other tough issues as well.
We appreciate Heitkamp for leading the way on this legislation and showing bipartisanship can still work.
Obenauer is CEO and president of Union State Bank and Petersen is chairman of Cornerstone Bank.