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CUNA Ads Accent CU Difference To Hill Audience

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WASHINGTON (4/15/13)--The Credit Union National Association is keeping the difference between credit unions and banks fresh on the minds of lawmakers, running new ads in key Capitol Hill news sources as banking groups make scheduled visits to Washington in the coming days.

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"Credit unions really are different, and it's important to make sure members of Congress recognize that," CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said.

The CUNA ads detail how America's member-owned, member-directed, not-for-profit credit unions put people first, and fight for their 96 million members every day.

Credit unions, one ad notes, did "something spectacular" last year: they provided $5.8 billion in direct financial benefits to their members in the form of lower interest rates for loans, lower fees for financial services and higher returns on savings accounts.

CUNA's consumer website, aSmarterChoice.org, also features prominently in the ads. aSmarterChoice features basic information for consumers and media that want to learn more about the credit union system, and provides resources to help consumers find credit unions they can join.

For more on aSmarterChoice.org, use the resource link.

The CUNA ads will run from April 15-17 and again from April 23-25 in two widely read Washington publications: Politico and Roll Call. The American Bankers Association has a conference scheduled to begin in Washington on April 15, and the Independent Community Bankers of America have a similar event set to start on April 24.

"There will be a lot of misinformation about credit unions spread in Washington during those two weeks, and we want to make sure our message is out there," Gose emphasized.

NEW: Exam Fairness Bill Introduced In Senate

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WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 4/15/13, 4:25 P.M. ET)--Legislation that would improve the federal examination process for credit unions and other financial institutions has been introduced by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.).

The exam fairness bill, backed by the Credit Union National Association, would:

  • Make available to financial institutions the information used to make decisions in their examination;
  • Codify certain examination policy guidance;
  • Establish an ombudsman at the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council to which financial institutions could raise concerns with respect to their examination; and
  • Establish an appeals process before an independent administrative law judge.
CUNA has called examination fairness legislation "a firm step in the right direction toward ensuring the federal financial institution regulatory agencies conduct fair exams which are consistent with the law and regulation and ensure safety and soundness."

A House version of similar legislation is expected to be released soon, perhaps as early as today.

Graham Becomes Head Of FHFA Division Of FHLBs

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WASHINGTON (4/15/13)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced the promotion of Fred C. Graham to become deputy director of the division of Federal Home Loan Bank Regulation, effective immediately.

Graham joined the agency when it was established in 2008 and has held several senior positions there: Most recently he served as acting deputy director of the Division of Supervision Policy and Support.

Before joining FHFA, Graham was senior economist and head of risk modeling with the Federal Housing Finance Board, one of FHFA's predecessor agencies. Graham also spent time as an economist with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Cheney Report: CUs Not Subject Of Student Loan Complaints

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WASHINGTON (4/13/13)--Of the consumer complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about student loans, 87% were directed at the same seven lending companies, and none of those complaints mentioned credit unions, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney highlighted in the latest edition of The Cheney Report.

In fact, he said, "only one of the roughly 3,500 complaints to CFPB involved a credit union, and that one was resolved." The student loan complaint data is also referenced in an April 8 CUNA comment letter to the CFPB. (Use the resource link to read April 10 News Now story: CUNA Urges Leeway For CUs To Help Student Borrowers.)

The complaint data, Cheney said, "shows why CFPB would be better off focusing its regulatory attention on these seven companies triggering all the complaints and other bad actors in the student lending field," rather than credit unions.

This week's Cheney Report also includes:

  • Details on last week's House hearing on credit union regulatory relief;
  • A report on CUNA's House Ways and Means briefing on the credit union tax exemption;
  • The results of a TARP fund inspector general report;
  • An update on Financial Literacy Month activities; and
  • A preview of aSmarterChoice's Times Square debut.
Each Friday, The Cheney Report delivers Cheney's insights on three to four key events and policy developments affecting credit unions into the e-mail inboxes of credit union CEOs. The report also provides a valuable window into CUNA's actions on behalf of member credit unions and reinforces the value of CUNA membership, CUNA Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications Paul Gentile notes.

To sign up for The Cheney Report, click the resource link below and use the "subscribe" tab on the right of the page.

Past issues of The Cheney Report are also archived on cuna.org.

Reg Accountability Bill Passes Judiciary Committee

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WASHINGTON (4/15/13)--The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill last week that would require the U.S. Congress to approve all federal agency rules that would have an economic impact of more than $100 million.

Committee members declined to add an amendment to the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny--or "REINS" Act (H.R. 367) that would have removed Dodd-Frank Act regulations from the reach of the congressional review.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who is a judiciary committee member and chairman of one of its subcommittees, said in a release that the Dodd-Frank Act regulations "are exactly the type of rules that need to be put under closer review." Bachus, who is House Financial Services Committee chairman emeritus, noted the burden the burden that Dodd-Frank Act regulations have imposed on credit unions and community banks.

To move forward, the REINS Act would next be considered by the full House.

The Credit Union National Association continues to fight regulatory burdens, acting on behalf of credit unions on several fronts.

Last week, Pamela Stephens, CEO of Security One FCU, Arlington, Texas, represented CUNA and credit union concerns as she testified before the House Financial Services financial institutions subcommittee to promote CUNA-backed regulatory relief measures. Stephens during the hearing delivered CUNA's 35 recommendations for statutory addressing a broad range of credit union issues, including examinations, accounting standards and regulatory agency budgets. (Use resource link to see an April 11 News Now story: CUNA 35-point Plan Could Help Spell Out Relief Bill.)

Removing legislative and regulatory barriers is one of the key objectives outlined in CUNA's Unite for Good initiative. Unite for Good calls on credit unions to rally in support of a common vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

For a full list of Unite for Good action steps, use the resource link.

CFPB Releases Escrow Rule Tweaks, Clarifications

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WASHINGTON (4/15/13)--Proposed clarifications and technical amendments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new escrow regulations were issued by the agency on Friday.

The CFPB's escrow rule, issued in January, generally extends the required duration of a mortgage loan escrow account to five years, up from one year. Lenders that work in rural or underserved areas will be exempt from the escrow changes, provided they meet certain other criteria. The proposals issued Friday would not substantially alter this rule.

One of the proposed clarifications is intended to ensure that an existing rule that provides protections regarding assessments of consumers' ability to repay and prepayment penalties on certain "higher-priced" mortgage loans remains in effect until January 2014.

A CFPB release explains that portions of its January escrow rule, as currently written, "can be read to cut off the old protections before the new expanded protections take effect." Such a reading could result in a six-month gap where consumers would not be adequately protected, the agency said.

The proposals also further clarify how the agency determines whether or not a county is considered "rural" or "underserved" for exemption purposes. A preliminary list of CFPB-approved rural and underserved areas, covering counties in 46 states and Puerto Rico, was released last month. (Use the resource link to read March 14 News Now story: Small Creditor Escrow Relief Previewed By CFPB.)

Credit Union National Association staff will review the proposed rule, and the CFPB said it will accept comment on the proposal for 15 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Additional guidance and clarifications on other mortgage regulations will be released later this month, the CFPB said.

For the full CFPB release, use the resource link.

$24M-asset Va FCU Closed Friday By NCUA

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/15/13)--Shiloh of Alexandria (Va.) FCU, a $2.4 million-asset, 624-member institution chartered in 1993, closed Friday, the National Credit Union Administration announced late in the day.

The NCUA said the decision to liquidate the credit union, which served members and employees of Shiloh Baptist Church and their immediate family members, as well as an underserved area within the City of Alexandria, was based on finding the credit union was insolvent and had no prospect for restoring viable operations.

Shiloh of Alexandria is the fifth federally insured credit union liquidation in 2013.

Member deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund up to $250,000. NCUA's Asset Management and Assistance Center will issue correspondence to individuals holding verified share accounts in the credit union within a week.

Former Shiloh members, or any credit union member, with questions about their insurance coverage may contact NCUA's Consumer Assistance Center toll free at 800-755-1030., Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (ET), or use the resource link below for more information.