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CUNA wants new FTC mortgage powers vetted
WASHINGTON (3/5/09)—A plan to broaden the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) mortgage-lending rulemaking authority should be thoroughly vetted in the congressional hearing process before it’s considered for a vote, said the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Wednesday. As written, a section of H.R. 1105, the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, would greatly expand FTC authority over some aspects of mortgage lending. The Senate is currently considering the House-passed bill. CUNA wrote in support of an amendment to be offered by Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) that would strike the proposed increased FTC authority and increased state attorneys general authority to enforce all types of Truth-in-Lending violations. Currently those violations primarily are addressed by federal agency enforcement actions and in private lawsuits. Under Section 626 of H.R. 1105, state attorneys general would be empowered to consider not only HOEPA violations, but any Truth-in-Lending violations without the current three-year limitation applicable to HOEPA violations. Advocates of the plan say it would allow the FTC to crack down on deceptive sales practices of nonblank lenders. However, opponents saw it could, intentionally or otherwise, interfere with federal financial institutions’ regulatory structure. In the CUNA letter to Crapo supporting his amendment, CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica wrote, “At the very least, Section 626 involves complicated issues that should be subject to hearings before being enacted into law as a rider to an omnibus appropriations bill.” He added that hearings would “bring to light the concerns of those supporting the provision and help to show whether additional enforcement tools are indeed necessary.” Mica said the Federal Reserve Board also should be given an opportunity to describe its plans to propose later in the year changes to its mortgage lending disclosure regulations, which might suffice to address concerns. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has also opposed the insertion of the FTC language into the appropriation bill. Dodd maintains that such a plan should be considered as part of a broader conversation on the overhaul of financial regulation.


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