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Washington
Inside Washington (09/24/2009)
* WASHINGTON (9/25/09)--H.R. 3614, portions of which correct the America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) loan program to give small businesses that qualify for 7(a) and ARC loans greater flexibility in how they use those loans, passed the House by a 417 to 2 vote earlier this week. The bill also extends all Small Business Administration programs through the end of October. The Credit Union National Association recently spoke in support of expanding the 7(a) Business Loan Program, saying that changes in the size criteria would help alleviate negative economic conditions by facilitating lending to small businesses ... * WASHINGTON (9/25/09)--At a Wednesday hearing, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that a draft bill by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on financial reform embraces some of the Obama administration’s reform ideas. Frank’s bill is expected to drop a requirement that forces banks to offer “plain vanilla” versions of their products (American Banker Sept. 24). Until Wednesday’s hearing, the Obama administration had supported the vanilla products idea, saying that it was necessary to protect consumers. However, banking groups had argued that the vanilla requirement would prevent innovation in the market and limit consumer choice. Geithner did not note any other compromises, but Frank said Wednesday that he expects disagreement in the House committee about a provision that would end national bank preemption. If passed, the legislation would give state regulators the ability to enforce national and state laws governing commercial banks. Lobbyists have said that the preemption rule would making financial institutions’ operation more difficult ... * WASHINGTON (9/25/09)--The Federal Reserve Board was absent at a House Financial Services Committee hearing attended Wednesday by officials of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke did not attend the hearing because of a scheduling conflict and asked the panel if he could meet with the committee later, a spokesperson said (American Banker Sept. 24). He is scheduled to testify in front of the committee Oct. 1. The Fed has been viewed as a contender by financial observers to take over the role of systemic regulator ... * WASHINGTON (9/25/09)--Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) says he doesn’t think that easing overdraft fee programs at JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America will stop legislative efforts regarding the fees. Dodd is expected to release a bill that would require financial institutions to give accountholders the ability to opt in for overdraft protection (American Banker Sept. 24). He said that the changes enacted by the large banks to ease the fees is a positive step. He added that the legislation would target abusive fee practices that “should have never been instituted in the first place” ... * WASHINGTON (9/25/09)--A press conference is scheduled for today by Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to move up the date that Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act provisions go into effect. Maloney and Frank hope to move the date to December from February (The Wall Street Journal Sept. 24). Part of the legislation, which requires credit card companies to give their accountholders more time to pay their bills, was effective in August. Other changes aren’t slated to go into effect until spring. The conference comes as several card companies have announced interest rate increases and fees, a move that some say is being triggered by a weak economy. If the effective date is moved, it would signal that lawmakers are not happy with how credit card companies have reacted to the legislation, according to John Ulzheimer, president of education at Credit.com, a credit card educational website ... * WASHINGTON (9/25/09)--The House Financial Services Committee is slated to have a hearing today on H.R. 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009. Witnesses include Scott G. Alvarez, general counsel at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and Thomas E. Woods, from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. H.R. 1207 would change how the Board of Governors of the Fed is audited by the Comptroller of the Currency and how such audits are reported ...


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