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Removing Barriers Blog

Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act Released Today
Posted November 21, 2017 by CUNA Advocacy

This afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its draft spending package to fund agencies and government functions under the jurisdiction of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government through the end of Fiscal Year 2018.  This bill includes many significant wins for credit unions! 

This bill is not expected to be considered as separate legislation by the Subcommittee, the full Committee, or the Senate as a whole.  As Fiscal Year 2018 began almost two months ago, this legislation will be considered as part of a larger negotiated settlement on all government funding to last through September 30, 2018.  The federal government is currently funded by a continuing resolution (CR) that will expire on December 8.  We expect Congress to pass at least one more CR before an omnibus spending bill is agreed to either in December or early next year. 

This legislation includes CUNA-supported funding of $248 million for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund.  CUNA also strongly supports the bill's appropriation of $2 million for the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund.  Both of these accounts are fully funded at Fiscal Year 2017 levels, an achievement in this austere fiscal climate. 

This bill would also place the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the appropriations process, beginning in FY 2019.  Also, unlike the original House bill, this legislation does NOT place the National Credit Union Administration under the appropriations process.  Working with our state partners, CUNA was able to convince the House to vote to remove this dangerous provision from its bill. 

The bill also fund other accounts of importance to credit unions, including: 

  • $29 billion for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 7(a) program, which allows the government to guarantee up to 85% of loans, with the guaranteed portion not counting against credit unions’ cap on member business lending. 

  • $7.5 billion for the SBA’s 504 loan program, which is used for long-term, fixed-rate financing on major fixed assets, such as equipment and real estate. 

The bill’s report language also contains a number of other items of interest to credit unions, including: 

Student Debt. — The Committee notes that there is nearly $1,400,000,000,000 in outstanding student loan debt, of which more than $165,000,000,000 is in private student loans. More than 850,000 students have defaulted on private student loans worth more than $8,100,000,000. The Committee commends the Federal bank regulators for efforts to encourage financial institutions to work constructively with private student loan borrowers experiencing financial difficulties and encourages Treasury to work with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Federal Reserve to offer clear guidance that protects taxpayers and is consistent with safety and soundness principles recognizing the unique characteristics of private student loans compared to other debt and providing flexibility to lenders working with borrowers to avoid default. 

Office of Financial Education. — The Committee is concerned about the low level of financial literacy and numeracy skills among the adult population of the United States, as one in seven adults do not have the basic financial literacy skills to succeed in all but the most rudimentary financial literacy tasks. The Committee encourages the Department to explore the degree to which current Federal financial literacy programs benefit those individuals with less than basic literacy skills and to develop measurable goals and objectives for the Financial Literacy and Education Commission that address the needs of this population. Finally, the Committee urges the Department to explore opportunities to work with rural community-based adult and family literacy organizations to promote and implement future financial literacy initiatives. 

Cybersecurity. — The Committee supports investments in financial cybersecurity research, and strongly urges the Department of the Treasury, including the Office of Critical Infrastructure Policy, to work with the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and its Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, and others to leverage cybersecurity research and efforts to protect our Nation where it is most vulnerable. 

Puerto Rico. — The Committee encourages the Department to provide technical assistance to Puerto Rico on stabilizing and strengthening public financial management and financial management systems. The Committee directs the Department to submit a report within 30 days of the end of the fiscal year to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate providing detailed descriptions of any technical assistance that has been provided, including: what activities have been undertaken by Treasury employees in the provision of technical assistance; timeframes within which the activities have occurred; number of full-time-equivalent hours devoted to provision of the activities; and documentation that the activities have occurred. 

Text of Draft FY2018 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/download/fy2018-fsgg-chairmens-mark 

Explanatory statement: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/download/fy2018-fsgg-explanatory-statement