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Inside Washington (03/29/2010)
* WASHINGTON (3/30/10)--The authority of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) lapsed as of March 29. Unlike the short-term extensions that the U.S. Congress has been providing to the program for a number of months, it failed to take any action before going on recess until April 12. Until Congress restores NFIP authority, the program will not be able to issue new flood insurance policies, increase coverage on existing policies, or issue renewal policies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which runs the NFIP, issued a memorandum last October on “Recommendations/Guidance for Possible NFIP Authority Lapse and Hiatus” in anticipation that a lapse in the flood insurance program might occur. FEMA says that agents should look to its October memo to determine the ramifications of the “hiatus.” This is not the first time that the NFIP authority has lapsed due to congressional inaction in recent years, and as the memo notes, Congress can retroactively extend NFIP authority. As reported by News Now Monday, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cancelled a weekend cloture vote on H.R. 4851, the bill that would have extended authorization for the NFIP and federal unemployment insurance, as well as continue federal subsidies to COBRA health insurance recipients through April 30. Funding for the NFIP, unemployment insurance, and COBRA will lapse until Congress reconvenes on April 12. A vote on H.R. 4851 is now scheduled for April 12… * WASHINGTON (3/30/10)—Recess appointments announced by the White House on Saturday included Jeffrey Goldstein as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance and Michael Mundaca as Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy. The Goldstein appointment is of interest to credit unions because it is his department at Treasury within which many issues related to credit unions are discussed. In fact, Goldstein was in attendance prior to his appointment at a meeting between Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions Michael Barr and the Credit Union National Association. Goldstein is Barr’s new boss. The new under secretary has served as manageing director of Hellman & Friedman LLC, a private equity investment firm with offices in San Francisco, New York and London, as well as managing director and CFO at the World Bank from 1999 to 2004. Mundaca, Treasury’s new tax assistant secretary, currently is senior policy adviser for the Treasury's Office of Tax Policy and the Acting Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy. He served at the Treasury during the Clinton administration and returned to the Treasury Department in 2007, as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs, where he served as Managing Director and CFO. The positions must be confirmed by the U.S> Senate... * WASHINGTON (3/30/10)—Although the Obama administration's latest foreclosure prevention plan, announced Friday, is getting high marks from many observers, but some consumer groups think the plan must become mandatory to have a significant impact on loan modifications. Under the initiative the U.S. Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) will push for writedown of a mortgage’s principal amount rather than reductions in interest rates and payments. Without a shift to make the new approach mandatory for servicers, some expect it will help only borrowers on the margins. However, the U.S. Treasury Department says that without new legislation, it does not have statutory authority to mandate participation. Still some said the new focus on unemployed borrowers is a good move toward improving the HAMP program…


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