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News Now

Washington
CUNA to Sen. Comm. CUs serve as shining example
WASHINGTON (12/9/10)--In a statement submitted to the Senate Banking Committee ahead of today’s hearing on the state of the credit union industry, Credit Union National Administration (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney notes that while the credit union system still “faces significant challenges as a result of the worldwide financial crisis,” credit unions “have continued to lend when other creditors abandoned consumers and small businesses.” “Considering the considerable stresses that the financial sector has experienced over the last several years and the activities that caused and perpetuated the crisis, credit unions serving consumers should be viewed as a shining example of what generally went right when so much else went wrong,” Cheney adds. The Senate Banking Committee later today will hold a hearing on the status of the credit union industry, the first hearing of its kind in many years. National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz will be the sole witness at the hearing. (See related story: Matz to testify at today's Sen. Banking CU hearing.) Credit unions are “eager to do more to serve their members, support their communities, and help the economy recover,” but, for the most part, cannot act without further aid from Congress and regulators, Cheney adds. The CUNA statement urges legislators to continue supporting credit unions’ tax exempt status. Credit unions “provide significant financial benefits” by saving their 92 million members nearly $7.5 billion per year, and those members would pay the price if credit unions lost their tax exemption, according to CUNA’s statement. CUNA in the statement also calls on Congress to act on increasing small business lending authority for credit unions, to allow credit unions to raise alternative sources of capital, and to ensure that interchange statutory provisions are implemented to protect small issuers. CUNA also encouraged legislators to “be mindful of the needs of credit unions” when they consider potential reforms of government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The statement also notes the NCUA’s role in aiding credit unions, adding that the NCUA should ensure that “regulations do not overwhelm institutions with counterproductive requirements that frustrate rather than fulfill congressional directives.” The NCUA’s recently released budget increases were also noted, with CUNA saying that greater attention needs to be given “to holding down agency costs, allowing financial institution boards to exercise their sound business judgments, and ensuring institutions are allowed to innovate and respond to the changing needs of their members/consumers.”
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