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House Financial Services to list years agenda
WASHINGTON (1/24/08)—The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), has scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. (ET) today to reveal his committee’s 2008 agenda. Ryan Donovan, vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), said Wednesday that almost certainly President George W. Bush's propopsed economic stimulus package and actions to contain the sub-prime mortgage credit crisis will be at the top of the Chairman's priorities. “In the atmosphere in Washington right now is a sense of urgency for dealing with what appears to be a steep economic downturn and may even be a recession. There's no doubt that Congress wants to do something, and do it quickly,” Donovan said. After those issues, Donovan said, the committee’s agenda for 2008 can only be made clear by the chairman. “It is a volatile time right now and it is a very short legislative year because of the federal elections--with Congress expected to be in session just under 100 days,” Donovan added. (See related story, “MICA says it's no time for partisanship on the Hill.”) While CUNA views it as a short legislative year, Donovan said he was not short sighted about the importance of the committee's hearings and mark-ups this year. "I think much of what the committee will do over the next several months will be as much as about getting legislation enacted in the short-term as it will be about laying the groundwork for Congress to take more comprehensive legislative action over the next several years," he said. “Based on what the chairman has said previously, I think it is reasonable to expect that Rep. Frank will take up some form of credit card legislation early in the year," Donovan said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see overdraft protection legislation back on the committee's agenda. We expect a hearing on credit union issues in the first quarter of the year. And, Chairman Frank has said previously he would like to hold a hearing on the Community Reinvestment Act. There are certainly a lot of ways he could go." CUNA will be very active in its efforts to work with committee staff on the key issues, reiterated Donovan, and it remains very positive about the prospects for important credit union legislation, including the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. "But we also are very cognizant that Congress has megalithic issues before it just now, issues that will influence much of the legislative session,“ Donovan said.

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