Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, greets attendees during an organizing event in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Warren took a major step last week toward an all-but-certain 2020 White House run, seeking to become the Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump on a message of economic equality and fighting corruption. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., spoke at a presidential campaign organizing event in Des Moines. (Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., probed the nation’s largest retail banks Tuesday on steps they are taking to help workers and businesses facing financial hardship due to the government shutdown.

Warren pressed the CEOs of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, US Bancorp and Wells Fargo in a letter to provide details “on exactly which services they will be providing, and to which affected group of workers and businesses.”

“I write today to seek information on how you intend to help meet the financial needs of federal government employees, contractors, and other workers and businesses who — through no fault of their own — face dire financial threats due to President Trump’s government shutdown,” Warren wrote.

Today is the 26th day of the shutdown.

Wrote Warren: “Hundreds of thousands of federal contract workers, businesses that are dependent on these workers, and large and small businesses in need of federal government services are also facing lost paychecks and profits.”

These problems, she said, “are now critical, with workers missing paychecks on January 11, 2019, and each day bringing new financial strains.”

As it stands now, Warren stated, the banks have committed to do the following:

  • Chase is “encourag[ing] customers affected by the U.S. government shutdown to call if they need help with their Chase mortgages, credit card accounts or car loans,” and “[s]ince December 24, … has been automatically waiving or refunding overdraft and monthly service fees on Chase checking and savings accounts if an employee’s salary from an affected federal agency was direct-deposited into the account.”
  • Wells Fargo announced that “[t]he bank will work with individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown,” and that “customers may qualify for forbearance or other payment assistance programs based on their individual circumstances.”
  • Bank of America announced that “[o]ur Client Assistance Program is available to individuals affected by the shutdown for personalized financial assistance, tailored to their specific situation and financial needs.”
  • Citi announced that “customers [affected by the shutdown] may be able to get fee and interest adjustments, as well as short-term forbearance and repayment plans or loan modifications.”

Warren stated that while she’s “glad” the banks are taking steps, the announcements “do not provide full details about the services that are actually available to affected workers and businesses.”

She asked the bank CEOs to tell her by Jan. 21 the services the banks are offering to federal employees affected by the shutdown; the types of assistance to federal contractors or contractors’ employees affected by the shutdown; assistance to other private businesses or their workers affected by the shutdown; the number of individuals or businesses that have taken advantage of this assistance; and any additional plans the banks have to provide assistance if the shutdown continues.

— Check out How the Shutdown Hurts the US Bond Market on ThinkAdvisor.