WASHINGTON (11/18/08)—Congress is back only briefly this week for a post-election lame duck session, but even so there are seven scheduled hearings of interest to credit unions. Chief among them is today’s study of the administration’s economic stabilization efforts and the evolving Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) sent a statement to be included in today’s House Financial Services Committee record of its hearing with the lengthy title, “Oversight of Implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and of Government Lending and Insurance Facilities: Impact on Economy and Credit Availability.” CUNA has urged both lawmakers and Bush administration officials to ensure that credit union interests are addressed in any rescue plan so the country’s 8,000 cooperatively owned financial institutions may help their 90 million members deal with the country’s financial crisis. CUNA backs a plan under which the National Credit Union Administration would develop a "shadow TARP" program for credit unions that would purchase mortgage loans and mortgage-related assets from credit unions, but wants backup funding from the Treasury if necessary. Scheduled to testify at today’s hearing are U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, as well as representatives from the Financial Services Roundtable, and banking and insurance industries. The committee will also hear from economists Alan Blinder and Martin Feldstein. Also of note to credit unions this week:
* Senate Banking Committee hearing today to examine the state of the country’s automobile industry; * House Financial Services Committee Nov. 19 hearing on a bill, currently being drafted, which would extend TARP to the country’s auto industry. Witnesses: to be announced. * Senate Banking Committee Nov. 19 nomination hearing to consider Neil Barofsky for the position of special inspector general for TARP; * Senate Budget Committee on the country’s economic outlook and options for further economic stimuli plans; * Senate Judiciary Committee Nov. 19 hearing titled, “Helping Families Save Their Homes: The Role of Bankruptcy Law;" and * House Small Business Committee review on Nov. 20 of recent federal efforts to improve credit conditions for small businesses.
Regarding pending credit union regulatory improvement legislation, congressional leaders’ announcements that they will not seek to address additional economic stimulus legislation this week has dashed long-shot hopes that some credit union provisions could be enacted this year. The House and Senate will return to full session on Jan. 6. to swear in the 111th Congress.