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CUNA urges Congress to change housing finance, data security laws
WASHINGTON (2/20/14)--Congressional leadership is needed to ensure action is taken on housing finance reform and merchant data breaches, the Credit Union National Association said in Wednesday separate letters to House and Senate leaders.

The letters were sent to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Ranking Committee Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Committee Member Michael Crapo (R-Idaho).

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney in the letter said CUNA is pleased by the progress that was made on housing issues in 2013. "With the economy in a fragile recovery and the housing market rebounding, now is the time for Congress to address changes to the housing finance system," Cheney added.

The CUNA CEO thanked the legislators for allowing CUNA to present credit union views on the issue, and said "it is critical that credit unions have equitable access to a functioning, well-regulated secondary market" once the reform process is complete.

"Equally important, new legislation should preserve the government guarantee of mortgages sold into the secondary market so that small lenders may continue to offer mortgage products with predictable payments, like the 30-year fixed rate mortgage," Cheney added.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan last week said Senate housing finance market reforms could be introduced soon.

Cheney also called on the Financial Services Committee to hold hearings on the recent Target data breach that cost credit unions an estimated $30.6 million. Data breach hearings have been held at the subcommittee level, and the full committee discussed the issue with federal regulators on Feb. 6. "We strongly encourage you to hold additional hearings on this matter, and call witnesses from the credit union system that can describe how these breaches affect credit unions and the members they serve," Cheney wrote.

He also said Congress must address inconsistent rules that require credit unions and other financial institutions to follow high security standards while exempting merchants.

"While we welcome the discussion, the pursuit and the deployment of new technology in the payment system, we are very skeptical that a solution to merchant data breaches can be achieved without first requiring all participants to follow similar data security standards. 

Further, until and unless merchants are held accountable for the damages that breaches to their systems cause financial institutions and consumers, we have little confidence that they will be incentivized to properly secure their systems," Cheney said.

For both letters to Congress, use the resource links.
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CUNA Letters to Congress
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