Removing Barriers Blog

The Consolidated Appropriations Act Includes Many CU Priorities
Posted May 01, 2017 by Chandler Schuette

This morning, House and Senate leaders released a spending package to fund government operations through September 30, 2017.  It is expected to pass Congress and be signed into law by the president before Friday at midnight, the time when the current federal spending authorization ends. 

This legislation, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 (a.k.a. the Senate Amendment to H.R. 244), 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. 

CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle today sent letters to the House and Senate, urging them to support the bill. 

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

  • Directing the CFPB to report to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee CUNA-supported language on how it has used its section 1022 exemption authority to tailor its rulemakings to community financial institutions within 120 days of the bill’s enactment. 

  • CUNA-supported language that would call for the Federal Communications Commission to revisit its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) order, and address technical questions that may be impossible for financial institutions to resolve.  This includes clearing up whether an exemption for financial institutions to contact consumers with additional information can actually be used, and urging the FCC to provide more flexibility to the requirements.  

  • CUNA-supported language directing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to determine the impacts of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act on U.S. citizens living abroad. The GAO must also make recommendations on FATCA implementations, and both must be done within 180 days of enactment of the bill; 

  • Directing the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Compliance Policy to report to several Congressional committees on ways to improve cybersecurity and an update on collaboration across the financial services sector within 60 days of the bill’s enactment.

  • Directing the CFPB to consider its recent actions related to auto lending that are reducing competition, regulating auto dealers, and raising costs to consumers. 

  • Supporting efforts, advocated by CUNA, by the CFPB to allow for residential mortgages held in portfolio by lenders to be recognized as qualified mortgages for the purposes of the Bureau’s mortgage lending rules.  These efforts would especially help community bankers and credit unions who have decreased their mortgage lending business in recent years due to onerous regulatory requirements. 

  • Urging the CFPB to carefully balance the existing regulatory frameworks within States and the need to provide consumers with access to a range of short-term financial services products. The CFPB is expected to base any regulatory action on complete data and sound analysis, taking into consideration successful State models which have encouraged lending practices that are fair and transparent without restricting access to credit. 

  • Encouraging the Department of the Treasury to work with Federal bank regulators, financial institutions, and money service businesses to ensure that legitimate financial transactions move freely and globally. 

  • Supporting efforts to clarify the definition of “points and fees” for qualified mortgages in order to improve access to credit for low and moderate income borrowers.  The change in definition under Dodd-Frank has caused many borrowers to be unable to obtain a qualified mortgage, causing higher costs and less convenience for the consumers. 

  • Urging the Department of the Treasury to work with financial regulators to address the problem of excessive student debt. 

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

  • $27.5 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. 

  • $47.7 million for a new account called the Cybersecurity Enhancement Account.  It is "designed to bolster the (Treasury) Department's cybersecurity posture and mitigate threats to the U.S. financial infrastructure."  It will also "improve identification of cyber threat and better protect information systems from attack; provide a platform to enhance efficient communication, collaboration, and transparency around the common goal of improving not only the Cybersecurity of the Treasury Department,  but also the Nation’s financial sector."