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CRA hearing largely uneventful for CUs
WASHINGTON (9/17/09)--Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) on Wednesday indicated that she would support expanding the terms of H.R.1479, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Modernization Act of 2009,to cover what she called “mainstream” credit unions. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who chaired much of the discussion during a Wednesday hearing before the committee, indicated that CRA legislation could be taken up later this year or early in 2010.
Click to view larger image House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), shown right, who says he wants to see a bill to enhance the Community Reinvestment Act this year or next, and committee member Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who proposes the act be "repealed not expanded" talk just prior to their panel's hearing Wednesday on CRA issues. (CUNA photo)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) spoke in support of keeping the CRA issue separate from the pending debate on the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, stating that he would hold a full hearing on H.R. 1479 later in the year. While Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) called for CRA requirements to be applied to all financial institutions, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) said that CRA should be repealed. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) also opposed any expansion of CRA, calling it irresponsible. National Community Reinvestment Coalition President/CEO John Taylor, Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks Steven Antonakes, and National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial testified during the hearing, along with academics and representatives from various Washington-based interest groups. In the event that credit unions are brought under the scope of the CRA, Antonakes said that the costs born by credit unions should only be commensurate to their market share. Legislators should also add provisions that require a full review of all affiliate lending and that increase asset standards for large institutions to help focus on market share rather than asset size. Banks that originate unsustainable loans or that have partnerships which can harm the unbanked should be downgraded, he added. Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill said that the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will continue to watch CRA discussions on the Hill very closely. CUNA strongly opposes expansion of the act to cover credit unions. Of yesterday's hearing Magill observed that the focus clearly was not on credit unions. Rather, other issues, including federal funding for ACORN, took up the majority of discussion time.

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