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Senate committee OKs reg reform House reviews housing reform
WASHINGTON (3/23/10)--Congress's work week, for the House at least, started early with the late night healthcare vote taking place on Sunday. And a busy week in Congress continued on Monday evening as Chairman Christopher Dodd's (D-Conn.) Senate Banking Committee passed its financial reform package on to the full Senate. Dodd was the only Democrat to make an opening statement prior to the mark up, and the committee's ranking minority member, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, was the only Republican to do so. Shelby's remarks included talk about continuing negotiations on the reform bill after the committee vote and before the package is taken up by the full Senate. As expected, the committee vote went on straight party lines with the Republican committee members simply voting against final passage. While there were over 400 potential amendments on the docket earlier in the day, it was widely reported Monday that lawmakers had reached some consensus on portions of the reform package. The mark up ended up taking a very brief 20 minutes. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner conveyed the Obama administration's viewpoint on Monday, saying that the government knows “all about the choices,” and just has to decide on whether or not it is going to act. “If we fail to act, America will lose this opportunity to set the global agenda, to define new high standards for all financial companies, and to lead the debate in shaping a level playing field on terms that play to our strengths. If we fail to act, American firms that operate globally will face a more balkanized system, with higher costs of doing business and riddled with pockets of lower standards designed to attract the exact types of risky behavior we are seeking to end,” he added. As currently constructed, Dodd’s bill would allow the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to maintain its independence and excludes credit unions with $10 billion or less in assets from the oversight authority of a proposed consumer watchdog. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) last week encouraged Dodd to consider adding language that gives his proposed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) "the authority to delegate examination authority for large credit unions to the prudential regulator" rather than limiting the NCUA authority to credit unions with under $10 billion in assets. CUNA also promoted "permitting the BCFP to delegate examination authority for large credit unions to NCUA." The Senate Small Business Committee will also be in action this week, holding a hearing on the proposed SBA budget for fiscal year 2010 on Tuesday. The House Financial Services Committee has another full week, with a hearing on housing finance reform, which will focus on the roles of the Federal Housing Administration, Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Home Loan Banks, private lenders, and securitizers, and will feature testimony from Geithner, scheduled for Tuesday. The full house committee will also hold a hearing entitled "Unwinding Emergency Federal Reserve Liquidity Programs and Implications for Economic Recovery" on Thursday. Related House subcommittees will discuss H.R.4868, the "Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act of 2010," and the impact of credit scores and credit reports on consumers during separate hearings set for Wednesday. Finally, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday will hold a full committee hearing on the Home Affordable Modification Program. H.R. 4849, the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010, and H.R. 4899, the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act of 2010, will also be discussed by the full House before Congress leaves for spring recess at the end of the week.


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