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Inside Washington (06/17/2010)
* WASHINGTON (6/18/10)--The federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies have proposed a change to Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rules that they say is intended to support stabilization of communities affected by high foreclosure levels. The proposed rule change specifically would encourage depository institutions to support the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It would allow banking institutions to receive CRA consideration for NSP-eligible activities in additional NSP-targeted areas and thereby, it is hoped, leverage government funding targeted to these areas. Also on the CRA front, bank and thrift agencies announced Thursday that there will be a series of public hearings on updated rules that implement the CRA. There are currently four hearings planned around the country: July 19, in Arlington, Va.; Aug. 6 in Atlanta; Aug. 12 in Chicago; and Aug. 17 in Los Angeles. The agency involved is the Federal Reserve Board. It intends to consider how to update the regulations to reflect changes in the financial services industry, changes in how banking services are delivered to consumers today, and current housing and community development needs… * WASHINGTON (6/18/10)--The House passed legislation this week that would temporarily save millions of gift cards from being destroyed under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act. The bill would delay the effective date of rules that require cards to prominently display expiration dates. Originally, the rules would have gone into effect Aug. 22, but will now be effective Jan. 31. Cards produced before April 1 would be affected (American Banker June 17). The measure aims to avoid having to destroy the cards and cardholder agreements, said Terry Maher, partner with Baird Hom LL law firm and general counsel for the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association ... * WASHINGTON (6/18/10)--Conferees on the regulatory reform bill analyzed provisions that would give the Government Accountability Office (GAO) more power to audit the Federal Reserve Board and also give shareholders a nonbinding vote on executive compensation (American Banker June 18). Conferees agreed to allow GAO to conduct ongoing audits of the Fed’s monetary policy decisions after a two-year delay, but disagreed on limitations regarding its emergency lending powers. Regarding executive compensation, conferees were not able to resolve some differences. The House version would give shareholders a nonbinding vote on golden parachute packages for senior executives, while the Senate did not want to add a provision. The final bill includes a measure to allow a similar vote on general compensation ... * WASHINGTON (6/18/10)--A spending bill that would extend jobless benefits has been set back in the Senate after Democrats struggled to garner support for the measure. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he hopes Democrats’ moves to narrow benefit payments to the unemployed and pare down a proposal to suspend cuts in Medicare payments to doctors would help move the bill toward passage (Wall Street Journal June 17.) Changes also were made to a proposed tax on income that managers of hedge funds earn. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who supported the bill, said she questioned how long unemployment insurance--at 99 weeks currently--would run. Senators also approved a measure that would lengthen the time individuals have to qualify for a homebuying tax credit. The credit, originally set to expire June 30, would run through Sept. 30, although buyers would have had to enter into the purchase contract by April 30 to qualify ...


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