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CUNA alert seeks cramdown opposition

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WASHINGTON (1/27/09)—In a continuing effort to keep the spotlight on credit union concerns regarding mortgage bankruptcy legislation, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is seeking grassroots action to block current “cramdown” bills. CUNA issued an Action Alert Monday urging state leagues and their member credit unions to contact federal lawmakers to opposed S. 61 and H.R. 200 as currently written. Those bills would allow a bankruptcy court to modify a debtor's mortgage terms-- an action known as a “cramdown.” In its alert, CUNA warns credit unions that the bills do not limit mortgage rewrites to the types predatory loans that fueled the current housing crisis; the provision would apply to all existing mortgages. “In the current crisis, credit unions are already working with members by stretching terms and lowering rates,” CUNA noted in its communication. “Credit unions use strong underwriting standards to make mortgages to their members and should not be swept up with this far-reaching bankruptcy reform proposal. “We need to send the message that significant changes need to be made to this legislation before it is enacted into law, and in the absence of significant change, credit unions must oppose the legislation,” CUNA urged. CUNA also encouraged credit unions to ask House and Senate lawmakers not to include "cramdown" legislation in an upcoming economic stimulus bill. CUNA last week sent letters to Capitol Hill to oppose broad cramdown authority and to suggest a more targeted approach. CUNA’s Action Alert was sent in advance of today’s scheduled House Judiciary Committee hearing on H.R. 200.

Congress Week short agenda long

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WASHINGTON (1/27/09)--WASHINGTON (1/27/09)--This week will be a short one for Congress, but it's packed with credit union interest--including votes on an economic stimulus bill and bankruptcy legislation. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will monitor the meetings of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee as they mark up provisions of the Senate version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—the stimulus package. The House is expected to consider the legislation on Wednesday. CUNA also will monitor the House Judiciary Committee as it marks up H.R. 200, Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act of 2009. The bill carries a provision that would allow bankruptcy judges to change—or “cramdown”—a borrower’s mortgage terms. “We believe that the significance of the mark-up of the House version of the cramdown legislation on Tuesday is to give House leaders the ability to show that this legislation has received complete committee consideration," said Ryan Donovan, CUNA vice president of legislative affairs. "However, it also gives those concerned about the legislation an opportunity to attempt to improve the bill before it is considered by the full House, either on its own or as a part of a larger bill. We have been working closely with several offices that oppose the bill to identify areas where the legislation needs significant modification," he added. In a letter sent to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and the panel’s ranking member, Lamar Smith (R-Texas), CUNA said it opposes adding the legislation to a stimulus package. CUNA identified several changes that it wants before the bill proceeds through the legislative process. This week CUNA also will monitor:
* The Senate Banking Committee's hearing on the Madoff Investment Securities case on Tuesday; * The House Financial Services Committee's meeting on Tuesday to meet and approve the committee rules for the 111th Congress, and elect members to subcommittees; *The Senate Budget Committee's Wednesday hearing on the federal response to the housing and financial crisis; and *The Senate Budget Committee's Thursday hearing entitled, "The Global Economy: Outlook, Risks and Policy Implications."
No votes are expected in the House Thursday and Friday due to a Republican conference retreat.

Inside Washington (01/26/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (1/27/09)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has issued a regulatory comment call for an interim final rule for the Hope for Homeowners Program. The rule implements Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (ESSA) provisions. ESSA created the $700 billion Troubled Asset Recovery Program, which allows the Federal Housing Administration to pay an amount up front to the subordinated lienholder at the time the loan is refinanced in lieu of providing a payment when the property is sold. The interim rule implements the ESSA provisions by determining the amount of the up-front payment. The rule was effective Jan. 7. Comments are due by March 9 ... * WASHINGTON (1/27/09)--The Senate has confirmed the Obama administration’s nomination of Shaun Donovan to oversee the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Mary Schapiro as Securities and Exchange Commission chairman by unanimous consent (American Banker Jan. 26). The Senate Monday night confirmed Timothy Geithner’s nomination as Treasury Department secretary... * WASHINGTON (1/27/09)--Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agree that more money is needed to stabilize the nation’s banks. Though both said they were open to providing more funds, they emphasized that there must be transparency in how the money is spent (The Washington Post Jan. 26). The Obama administration has proposed an $850 billion economic stimulus package to help recover the economy. House Republican leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said most of his party members oppose the measure. Obama has increased his lobbying for the bill and is expected to meet with Republican caucuses today ...

Royce Camp join GAC lineup

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WASHINGTON (1/27/09)—Two long-time Republican friends of credit unions from Capitol Hill, Reps. Ed Royce and Dave Camp, are scheduled to address the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) 2009 Governmental Affairs Conference in February. Royce, from California, is well known to credit unions as a primary sponsor to credit union legislation such as the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA) and other regulatory relief measures. Royce will address the GAC during the morning general session on closing day of the conference Feb. 26. The GAC this year begins on Feb. 22. Camp, from Michigan, has weighed in as a CURIA co-sponsor and was recently selected by the GOP to be ranking member on the important tax-policy committee, Ways and Means. He replaced Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), a member not known as a credit union supporter. Camp is also slated for Feb. 26. Royce and Camp are just part of a top of the line list of key speakers, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), its ranking member, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R_Ala.), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), formerly head the panel's subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit and now chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. Also among those scheduled to speak are House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.).

WOCCUs Afghanistan work outlined for U.S. Senator

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WASHINGTON (1/27/09)--In a follow-up letter to a U.S. Senator’s recent remarks about the country’s involvement in Afghanistan, President/CEO Pete Crear of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) said his organization strongly agrees that development assistance is needed there. Crear emphasized WOCCU’s work in Afghanistan and the organization’s willingness to help policymakers in a letter to a Wisconsin senator. The letter, sent Jan. 16 to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), responded to a statement Feingold made during Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) confirmation hearing for U.S. Secretary of State. Feingold had noted the importance of increased military and development assistance in Afghanistan. WOCCU agrees with Feingold’s position on Afghanistan, Crear said. WOCCU has helped create Afghanistan’s first credit union system, enabling the country’s 14 financial cooperatives to serve 27,000 consumers. The financial cooperatives have $1.1 million in savings, and 1,000 new members join each month, he added. As Secretary of State, Clinton will oversee the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which funds part of WOCCU’s work in Afghanistan. WOCCU hopes that her “past support for microfinance will translate into increased development and microfinance work by USAID in Afghanistan and elsewhere,” Crear said.