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Washington Archive

Washington

NEW Frank underscores commitment to CUs

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WASHINGTON (4/8/08 UPDATED 1:50 p.m. ET)—House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) took pen to paper to reiterate his assurance to credit unions that the U.S. Congress appreciates the role they play in the country’s financial services system. In a letter to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Frank acknowledged CUNA’s concerns regarding the devastating affect the U.S. Treasury Department's proposal for financial institution regulatory restructuring could have on credit unions. Frank said that any proposal to do away with credit unions is a proposal that will go nowhere. The chairman first stated his reassurance to credit unions at last week’s hearing on the Internet Gambling law, at which CUNA witness Harriet May testified. May is CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas. Frank said to May, "Please tell my good friend and former colleague Mr. Mica not to worry about the Treasury proposal to eliminate credit unions. We would never do that. So please tell him not to worry about that." In his April 3 letter, Frank expanded his thoughts: “(G)iven the appreciation Member of Congress have of the role that credit unions play, there is no chance of anything that would diminish that role going through. “Indeed, as you know, we have worked closely with you on legislation that will to some extent expand the ability of credit unions to serve consumers.” He said that, while Congress may not stand ready to give credit unions all they seek, “I can assure you that it is expansion and not contraction that will be on our agenda for credit unions in the future.” Use the resource link below to read the complete letter.

Comment sought on new home valuation code

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WASHINGTON (4/9/08)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is seeking comment on a proposal by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to implement the New Home Valuation Protection Code (Code), new standards designed to ensure independent and reliable appraisals. Early last month, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), the New York Attorney General, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac entered into agreements that require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy loans only from financial institutions that meet the new standards set out by the code. The significant provisions of the Code include prohibitions against:
* Mortgage brokers selecting appraisers; * Lenders using “in-house” staff appraisers to conduct initial appraisals; and * Lenders using appraisal management companies that they own or control.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are requesting comments on the implementation of the Code by April 30. CUNA seeks to have credit union comments by April 22. Use the resource link below to read the points address in CUNA’s Comment Call.

Lawmakers send assurances to CUs

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WASHINGTON (4/9/08)—The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a high-ranking Republican member of that panel have each sent credit unions their assurances that Congress values the unique role of financial services cooperatives. Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), in a letter to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), wrote that the U.S. Congress appreciates the role credit unions play in the country’s financial services system. Frank acknowledged CUNA’s concerns regarding the devastating affect the U.S. Treasury Department's proposal for financial institution regulatory restructuring could have on credit unions. He said that any proposal to do away with credit unions is a proposal that will go nowhere. The chairman first stated his reassurance to credit unions at last week’s hearing on the Internet Gambling law, at which CUNA witness Harriet May testified. May is CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas. Frank said to May, "Please tell my good friend and former colleague Mr. Mica not to worry about the Treasury proposal to eliminate credit unions. We would never do that. So please tell him not to worry about that." In his April 3 letter, Frank expanded his thoughts: “(G)iven the appreciation Member of Congress have of the role that credit unions play, there is no chance of anything that would diminish that role going through. “Indeed, as you know, we have worked closely with you on legislation that will to some extent expand the ability of credit unions to serve consumers.” He said that, while Congress may not stand ready to give credit unions all they seek, “I can assure you that it is expansion and not contraction that will be on our agenda for credit unions in the future.” On April 7, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is the ranking member on the House Financial Services subcommittee on domestic and international monetary policy, trade, and technology, wrote similar assurances to the Texas CU League. Paul wrote that he opposes a provision in the Treasury’s plan which would eliminate the credit union charter and the independent federal credit union regulator. “Eliminating separate charters for credit unions, banks, and thrifts could deny the benefits of credit union membership to million of Americans,” Paul wrote. He added that he would “do all I can to make sure this provision, or any other regulatory change detrimental to the interests of credit unions” is not contained in any regulatory legislation considered by the 110th Congress.

Mortgage bill moves in Senate

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WASHINGTON (4/9/08)—The Senate voted 92 to 6 Tuesday to proceed to a vote on final passage on a bill that would provide $4 billion to cities for the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed properties. The bill, known as The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, would provide another approximately $13 billion in targeted tax breaks to spur additional home buying and ease the troubles of the housing industry. It also would authorize $200 million for housing counselors to help families about to lose their homes to foreclosure. The Credit Union National Association supports a higher allocation for housing counseling and will be working to encourage the House to increase that level before the bill gets final approval by both houses of Congress. Although the package contains a limited FHA reform provision, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has stated he wants more, such as adding loan guarantees of up to $400 billion. Dodd has scheduled a hearing on Thursday on foreclosure mitigation and liquidity in the mortgage markets. Also this week, the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday and Thursday will hold hearings to address "Using FHA (Federal Housing Administration) for Housing Stabilization and Homeownership Retention."

Inside Washington (04/08/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (4/9/08)--Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch, a lending advocacy group, Monday criticized JPMorgan Chase, saying the bank confined African-Americans to higher-cost loans 2.44 times more frequently than whites. The advocacy group made the statements after receiving a study of 2007 mortgage loans. The company’s disparity to Latinos was 1.60. The percentage of loans over the rate spread went up to 20.96% in 2007 from 19.28% in 2006, the group said ... * WASHINGTON (4/9/08)--The Senate Banking Committee met Monday in Philadelphia where Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) heard testimony regarding mortgage foreclosure (Life is a Highway April 8). Mike Nutter, Philadelphia mayor; Brian Hudson, CEO/executive director, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; Community Legal Services; and a Philadelphia resident provided testimony. Dodd said the foreclosure bill the Senate is considering won’t stop foreclosures and more must be done to help the housing crisis. Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) are working on bills that would let the Federal Housing Administration guarantee $300 billion to $400 billion in refinancing to troubled borrowers. Dodd will have the first hearing for his bill tomorrow ...