The Justice Department will end a controversial Obama-era program that discourages banks from doing business with a range of companies, from payday lenders to gun retailers, Politico reports. The move hands a victory to Republican lawmakers who charged that the initiative—”Operation Choke Point”—was hurting legitimate businesses. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) that the program is “a misguided initiative.” Boyd added, “We share your view that law abiding businesses should not be targeted simply for operating in an industry that a particular administration might disfavor. Enforcement decisions should always be made based on facts and the applicable law.”
Under President Obama, the department said the effort was intended to root out fraud by banks and payment processors and to cut off the banking system from wrongdoing by merchants. Karl Frisch of the group Allied Progress said “Operation Choke Point has been incredibly effective at cracking down on the flow of money to fraudulent merchants that violate the law and target vulnerable consumers.” Republicans in Congress argue that the program hindered banks from serving legitimate businesses and tried to get officials to back off by using legislation and investigative powers.