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Cordray Nomination, Privacy Bill Vote, NCUA Meeting Fill the Washington Week
WASHINGTON (3/12/13)--Three items of interest to credit unions are on the Washington agenda this week: A Tuesday confirmation hearing for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, a potential vote on legislation that would eliminate burdensome annual privacy notice requirements, and the March National Credit Union Administration board meeting.

The Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (ET). Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said committee-level confirmation hearings can often provide those under an agency's oversight to highlight some of the regulatory burdens they face.

Cordray's nomination is expected to pass through the committee, but his prospects before the full Senate are uncertain, Donovan noted. This is the second time the CFPB director has been nominated for that post: The banking committee approved his nomination by a party-line 12-10 vote in late 2011, but he did not receive a full vote in the Senate. President Barack Obama appointed Cordray to the director position during a brief congressional recess in 2012.

Some Senate Republicans have consistently said they would block any CFPB nominee if certain structural changes were not made to the CFPB. One such change is replacing the director's position with a five-member panel of leadership as a way, supporters say, of making the CFPB's actions more transparent.

Legislation that would create such a panel (s. 205) has been introduced in the Senate.  The Credit Union National Association backs such a multi-member directors panel if it includes seats statutorily designated for credit union system representatives, including a state or federal credit union regulator, and possibly a state consumer agency representative.

While the CFPB and Cordray's nomination to lead that agency have proved polarizing for some, one item that has not been controversial is a CUNA-supported privacy notification bill, H.R. 749, the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act.

H.R. 749 would eliminate repetitive privacy notices by eliminating a requirement that the notices be sent annually. Under the terms of the bill, privacy notices would only to be sent when the privacy policy of a financial institution has changed.

The bill is on Tuesday's suspension calendar. Non-controversial bills are added to this calendar, and Donovan said it is expected to pass the House easily. A similar bill passed the House in late 2012, but the Senate did not vote on the bill before the last session of Congress ended.

"Getting the bill through the House early will give CUNA a lot of time to work it through the Senate," Donovan noted. CUNA hopes to see a companion bill introduced in the Senate, he added.

H.R. 1035, which would require a study of voluntary community-based flood insurance options and how such options could be incorporated into the national flood insurance program, could also be considered in the House this week.

Other items on this week's congressional agenda include:

  • A Wednesday House Financial Services housing and insurance subcommittee hearing entitled "Mortgage Insurance: Comparing Private Sector and Government-Subsidized Approaches.";
  • A Thursday House Financial Services oversight and investigations subcommittee hearing on too big to fail  institutions and the Government Accountability Office's assessment of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Office of Financial Research;
  • A House Judiciary courts and intellectual property subcommittee on abusive patent litigation;
  • A Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing on small business access to capital and disaster recovery; and
  • A Joint Economic Committee hearing on federal debt issues.
These and other issues are covered in the CUNA Legislative Update, provided each week to CUNA members for the latest information involving Capitol Hill. Use the resource link to access this issue, as well as earlier ones.

The NCUA open board meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, will feature discussion of a proposed rule addressing federal credit union ownership of fixed assets and a community charter conversion request. A purchase and assumption request, a merger request and requests under Section 205(d) of the Federal Credit Union Act are on the agenda for the closed NCUA board meeting.
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CUNA Legislative Update

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