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Congress Few days to clear top issues
WASHINGTON (7/1/08)—The U.S. Congress is in recess this week for a fourth of July District Work Session, and when lawmakers come back to Capitol Hill there will be fewer than 30 working days left for the year. What that means for financial services issues, says Ryan Donovan, is a tight schedule for getting things done, such things as a Senate vote on the Credit Union, Bank and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act (CUBTRRA), which was passed by the House as H.R. 6312 on June 24. Donovan, who is vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), said the bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration and has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee. CUNA has already made initial contacts with the Senate Banking Committee staff and certain members of the committee. Those contacts follow several meetings with staff and senators over the last six months in anticipation of House passage of a regulatory relief measure. “However,” Donovan notes, “it is obvious the legislative calendar is not our friend. But we will be working very hard to get this bill through the Senate and to the President before Congress leaves for the year.” On other topics of key interest to credit unions, Donovan notes:
* While the House and Senate didn’t meet their goal of delivering a housing relief bill to the President’s desk by July 4, there is still hope that a bill could be enacted by August; * A bill introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), which would have effectively caused a moratorium on implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, failed to clear that committee with a 32-32 vote. Several members of the committee were unable to be present for the vote and it is possible that the bill will be reconsidered in the future; * A bill to regulate interchange fees, strongly opposed by CUNA and the Electronic Payments Coalition, may again be taken up in July—most likely by the House Judiciary Committee whose chairman is primary sponsor of one of two pending interchange bills in the House; and * On credit card reform and overdraft protection plans; both issues remain on the agenda of the House Financial Services Committee, but have been knocked to the back burner by various bills to address the mortgage crisis. However, it is possible the committee could take up both credit cards and overdraft protection plans this summer as either additional hearings or a vote.
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