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Financial legislation as Congress heads to crunch time
WASHINGTON (4/15/08)---Legislation dealing with a variety of financial issues, ranging from mortgage lending to financial literacy, are on the agenda as Congress heads into what many believe is the crucial part of the session. Caught amid distractions by the Presidential campaigns and rising concerns about the national economy, Congress is in the middle of an eight-week period that is expected to be its best chance this year of working toward agreements on difficult issues. The timeline is tight and pressures increase as recess breaks and the summer political conventions near, limiting the time for further deliberations. Credit unions have an important stake in this week’s agenda, which will include floor votes on legislation dealing with student loans and health savings accounts. Meantime, committee hearings are set for legislation relating to the credit markets, financial literacy, emergency mortgage loans, impact of the credit squeeze on small business, and foreclosure prevention and other mortgage servicing issues. Among the concerns for credit unions is the Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act of 2008 scheduled for House consideration. It would require financial institutions offering health savings accounts to substantiate the amounts paid or dispersed out of these accounts, similar to the process required in flex spending accounts. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) objects to this requirement and will continue its efforts to oppose it as the bill makes its way to the House floor for a vote. There currently is no similar bill introduced in the Senate. Among the hearings is one on Financial Literacy scheduled today by the House Financial Services Committee, at which National Credit Union Administration Chairman Joann Johnson will testify. Purpose of the discussion is to consider the effectiveness of public and private efforts to improve understanding of financial decisions and options. CUNA submitted a statement for the hearing record. (See related story: CU fin lit efforts spotlighted in CUNA statement)

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