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Inside Washington (12/11/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (12/14/09)--The Treasury is falling short on its small business lending programs, according to the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s (TARP) Congressional Oversight Panel. Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the panel, questioned Timothy Geithner about the Obama administration’s plan to use TARP money for small business lending. Treasury has announced three plans to help, but small businesses are closing every day, Warren said (American Banker Dec. 11). Geithner blamed banks, saying that many are afraid to use TARP money to spark Small Business Administration lending because they fear Congress or Treasury will add to their regulatory restrictions. For the plans to work, banks must be able to get capital from the government to support lending, Geithner said. He announced Wednesday that TARP would be extended to Oct. 3 and appeared before the panel Thursday. The Treasury has announced several small business lending assistance programs, including the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility ... * WASHINGTON (12/14/09)--Executives from 12 banking companies were slated to meet with President Barack Obama today to discuss his plans to boost small business lending. Represented institutions include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Co., Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has urged House members to include expanded business lending authority for credit unions in a jobs created bill being drafted by Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and George Miller (D-Calif.). “Credit unions have been providing business loans to their members for over 100 years. In fact, as banks have pulled back credit from small businesses, credit unions have continuedt o lend and they have the available funds and expertise to do more,” said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica in a letter to the House ...

Go Direct Spread direct deposit for the holidays

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WASHINGTON (12/14/09)—The U.S. Treasury Department’s direct deposit program,Go Direct, reminds credit union and other national campaign partners that the holiday season is a great time to promote peace of mind through automatic check deposits. “This holiday season, help senior citizens, people with disabilities and others who receive federal benefit checks gain peace of mind,” Go Direct advises in recent published materials. “Encourage them to switch to direct deposit or the Direct Express Debit MasterCard card for their federal benefit payments.” Direct deposit of Social Security or other federal benefits not only helps guard against theft, loss and fraud, it also assures the money will be “on time, every time.” Credit unions can inform their members through lobby displays and newsletters of the easy steps to signing up for the Direct Express® card for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments by calling 1-877-212-9991 or visiting www.USDirectExpress.com.

Senate sets 2010 calendar

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WASHINGTON (12/14/09)--The Senate last week released the schedule for its 2010 legislative session, which will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 19. That initial work period will last until Feb. 12, when the Senate leaves for its President’s Day recess. The Spring/Easter recess will begin on March 29 and continue through April 12, with the Senate remaining in session for a seven week period, ending on May 28. A four week work period will commence on July 12, with the Senate leaving for its August recess early in the month. That recess will continue until September 13. While the Senate has not determined its target date for adjournment at this time, it will be in session, barring two federal holidays, Columbus Day on Monday, October 11 and Veterans Day on Thursday, November 11. The House released its calendar for 2010 earlier this month. (See related story: House sets 2010 schedule)

NCUA to take up charter second mortgage maturity rules

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/14/09)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) at its upcoming board meeting, which will take place at 10 a.m. ET on Dec. 17, will consider a final rule on exceptions to the maturity limit on second mortgages. The NCUA final rule would create a limited exception to the 20- year maturity limit on second mortgage loans, allowing federal credit unions that are taking part in the Treasury Department’s Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program to extend second mortgages beyond 20 years in order to match the term of a modified first mortgage , which can have up to a 40-year maturity. The Credit Union National Association supported this exception in a comment letter on the final rule, and added that the exception outlined in the rule should apply to all loan modifications, regardless of whether they are undertaken as part of the MHA Program. The NCUA will also discuss a proposed rule on its chartering and field of membership policies, and it is believed that this proposed rule will streamline the community credit union charter process, as discussed by NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz at the Nov. meeting. The board will also be updated on the status of its insurance fund during the meeting. A closed meeting of the board will follow the open session, during which the NCUA will discuss supervisory activities, personnel matters, and Cedar Point FCU’s appeal of a denied request to convert to a community charter.

Cramdown effort fails House passes reg reform

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WASHINGTON (12/14/09)--An amendment that would have changed the bankruptcy code to permit judicial mortgage modification in Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings was not added to H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, on Friday. While the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) recognizes the need for Congress to take steps to help keep people in their homes, CUNA was "deeply concerned" that adoption of the amendment offered by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), which failed by a vote of 188 to 241, would "upset the balance" achieved in H.R. 4173. CUNA last week reached out to members of Congress on the cramdown issue, saying in a letter that CUNA considered the Conyers Amendment vote "a key credit union vote." Hundreds of credit union advocates in Washington for a CUNA National Hike the Hill also expressed their opposition to cramdown in their discussions with House members. CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica thanked the leagues and credit unions that contacted Congress during the past week, saying that their efforts, which "made the difference on this key vote," showed "the power of the movement working together." An amendment offered by Rep. Walter Minnick (D-Idaho), which would have replaced the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency with 12-member Consumer Financial Protection Council of existing regulators, also failed of Friday. The House also passed H.R. 4173 by a vote of 223 to 202. The provisions of H.R. 4173, if passed into law, would provide sweeping reforms to the financial regulatory landscape and would address financial stability,over-the-counter derivatives, and capital markets. The legislation also proposes the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The Senate is expected to take up financial regulatory reform early next year, and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is reportedly revising his own regulatory reform proposals after some colleagues criticized his proposals. Dodd has been unable to earn support from Republicans and some Democrats with ties to industry groups affected by the bill.