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Washington Archive

Washington

Inside Washington (06/30/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (7/1/08)--Elizabeth A. Duke, a Virginia banker and former American Bankers Association chairman, has been confirmed as the next Federal Reserve Board Governor (American Banker June 30). She will serve a term through 2012. Larry Klane, an executive at Capital One Financial Corp., and Gov. Randall Kroszner also were nominated, but the status of their nominations is unclear. Kroszner’s term expired in January. Gov. Frederic Mishkin will leave the board in August ... * WASHINGTON (7/1/08)--The Federal Reserve Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are being encouraged to wait for Congress’ input on investment bank oversight. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) sent a letter to the agencies and the Treasury Department Friday, saying that Congress should determine changes to the financial regulatory system ...

CUNA thanks lawmakers for pro-CU comments

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WASHINGTON (7/1/08)—The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) sent letters to two lawmakers this week thanking them for voicing their support of credit unions in recent statements made on the House floor. In one letter, CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica thanked Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) for publicly noting the role of credit unions in helping those victimized by the subprime housing crisis. “Your sentiments, echoed by (House Financial Services Committee) Chairman (Barney) Frank (D-Mass.), further support the fact that regulated financial institutions like credit unions did not cause the current crisis in the nation’s housing sector,” Mica wrote. He also thanked Waters, who is a member of the House financial services panel, for her support for H.R. 6312, the Credit Union, Bank, and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act of 2008. “The credit union movement was very pleased with the affirmative outcome of the vote and the positive impact this legislation will have on credit unions across the country,” Mica wrote. In a second letter, CUNA commended Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) for acknowledging the public service of Maurice Calderon, senior vice president for governmental affairs and community development with Arrowhead CU, San Bernardino, Calif. “Mr. Calderon is truly an example of public service and dedication to those in need,” Mica wrote and noted, “In this position, he put into practice the ideals of the credit union movement.” For instance, the CUNA letter pointed out, Calderon extended Arrowhead’s presence and outreach into “unbanked” areas of southern California, bringing affordable and convenient financial services to many people outside out the financial services mainstream. Use the resource link below for more information on H.R. 6312.

Congress Few days to clear top issues

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WASHINGTON (7/1/08)—The U.S. Congress is in recess this week for a fourth of July District Work Session, and when lawmakers come back to Capitol Hill there will be fewer than 30 working days left for the year. What that means for financial services issues, says Ryan Donovan, is a tight schedule for getting things done, such things as a Senate vote on the Credit Union, Bank and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act (CUBTRRA), which was passed by the House as H.R. 6312 on June 24. Donovan, who is vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), said the bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration and has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee. CUNA has already made initial contacts with the Senate Banking Committee staff and certain members of the committee. Those contacts follow several meetings with staff and senators over the last six months in anticipation of House passage of a regulatory relief measure. “However,” Donovan notes, “it is obvious the legislative calendar is not our friend. But we will be working very hard to get this bill through the Senate and to the President before Congress leaves for the year.” On other topics of key interest to credit unions, Donovan notes:
* While the House and Senate didn’t meet their goal of delivering a housing relief bill to the President’s desk by July 4, there is still hope that a bill could be enacted by August; * A bill introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), which would have effectively caused a moratorium on implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, failed to clear that committee with a 32-32 vote. Several members of the committee were unable to be present for the vote and it is possible that the bill will be reconsidered in the future; * A bill to regulate interchange fees, strongly opposed by CUNA and the Electronic Payments Coalition, may again be taken up in July—most likely by the House Judiciary Committee whose chairman is primary sponsor of one of two pending interchange bills in the House; and * On credit card reform and overdraft protection plans; both issues remain on the agenda of the House Financial Services Committee, but have been knocked to the back burner by various bills to address the mortgage crisis. However, it is possible the committee could take up both credit cards and overdraft protection plans this summer as either additional hearings or a vote.
For more information on legislative issues, use the resource link below.

Changes to low-income definition urged by CUNA

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WASHINGTON (7/1/08)—Changes to a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) proposal to broaden its low-income designation are needed to better reach those members who benefit most from access to financial services from through low-income designated credit unions, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). In a recent comment letter, CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn rtote that CUNA “does not generally object to the change in the definition from one that is based on ‘median household income’ to one that is based on ’median family income,’ as proposed by the agency in April. The NCUA, at the time, pointed out that presently agency regulations describe a low-income family as members whose annual household income falls at or below 80% of the national Median Family Income. That rule does not provide a differential for certain geographic areas with higher costs of living. The proposed change is intended to acknowledge geographical differences. However, CUNA urges the agency to consider some important modifications before adopting a final rule. They include:
* ‘Grandfather’ for existing low-income credit unions should be permanent, not just for five years as in the proposal. NCUA should also include a waiver process that would allow other credit unions on an individual basis to qualify for or retain low-income status to serve areas or individuals who might not technically meet the definition of low-income; * A final rule should be clarified to include state-chartered federally insured credit unions; * The definition should include those whose incomes are at or below 80% of the area or nation’s income standards, even if they do not live in a low-income area; and * NCUA should facilitate the ability of credit unions to determine low-income areas by making appropriate resources available for them on its website.
The low-income designation is considered especially important to credit unions because it determines whether they qualify for subsidies from the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund. For more on the NCUA proposal and to read CUNA’s complete comment letter, use the resource links below.