Removing Barriers Blog

House Financial Services Committee to Begin Consideration of CHOICE Act
Posted September 09, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

This week, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) formally introduced his Financial CHOICE Act, a package of reforms to the Dodd-Frank Act.  The chairman also announced that the committee will begin consideration of this package next week. Back in July, CUNA CEO Jim Nussle testified on Title I of the package, which would provide credit unions and other financial institutions with some regulatory relief, as long as their leverage ratio exceeds  10 percent. 

One of the chief reforms included in the CHOICE Act is repeal of the Durbin Amendment that sets price controls on interchange fees.  The Amendment cost credit unions over $1 billion last year alone, which in turn led to fewer resources being passed back to credit union members. 

However, we do not support the CHOICE in its entirety. The bill contains a provision that would place the National  Credit Union Administration (NCUA) under the appropriations process.  The money that funds NCUA comes from credit unions and their members, and not from congressional appropriation. We support the maintenance of a separate, independent federal regulator.   

We also object to inclusion of language that would allow Savings and Loan Associations (S&Ls) to operate with the duties and responsibilities of national banks; we oppose the lifting of the S&L cap unless credit unions’ commercial lending restrictions are also lifted. 

We do, however, support many other regulatory reforms included in the CHOICE Act.  These include the: 

  • CFPB provisions that would create a 5-member commission and place the Bureau under the appropriations process; 

  • Senior$afe Act, which would protect financial institutions from liability when reporting suspected financial elder abuse;  

  • Extension of the examination cycle to 18 months and creation of an independent ombudsman and appeals process; 

  • Housing regulatory relief, including the Mortgage Choice Act, the Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act, Relief from RESPA requirements in certain cases, and HMDA relief. 

We previously outlined our support and concerns with the CHOICE Act in a letter to Chairman Hensarling this summer.  As the CHOICE Act moves toward markup, we will continue to work with Congress to achieve meaningful regulatory relief for credit unions.