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News Now

Washington
Light agenda for Congress first days
WASHINGTON (1/15/08)—The House is back in session this week and the Senate next week, but Ryan Donovan, VP of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), said Monday that things will remain subdued on Capitol Hill for the first few weeks of the new year. Donovan said that until the President’s State of the Union address has been delivered later in January, the House and Senate both are likely to maintain “light legislative agendas.” That lighter agenda could extend, Donovan said, until the White House budget proposal has been submitted to Congress in early February. Likely to get the House’s immediate attention, however, are procedural issues in anticipation of an effort to override President George W. Bush’s veto of a Defense authorization bill. The House, Donovan said, is also expected to act this week on resolutions involving slain Pakistani political leader, Benazir Bhutto, and a reauthorization of the Hope VI housing program. “We don’t expect the House Financial Services Committee to meet this week, but in the next weeks expect that panel to take up Internet gambling rules and credit card issues,” Donovan said. Recently, sixteen House Republicans wrote to the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board warning that their joint proposal to implement a 2006 ban against most forms of Internet gambling could have major unintended consequences for financial institutions and credit card companies. CUNA has also expressed reservations about the joint agency proposal, warning it threatens to impose "unforeseen regulatory burdens" on credit unions and other financial institutions. CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica wrote House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in December asking for a moratorium on the law's implementation until "a more reasonable approach can be considered by Congress and the regulators." CUNA also expects to see action soon on one of two bills that have been floating on Capitol Hill that would prohibit several ways credit card companies charge fees and raise rates. House Financial Institutions Subcommittee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is expected to introduce a bill that would protect consumers from double-cycle billing and any rate or fee adjustments not covered in the contract. That bill is also expected to propose a ban on universal default on outstanding debt. CUNA also continues to work with Hill staffers to increase support for the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537), which already has 142 supporters in the House. A hearing is expected on the measure early in 2008. “It is reasonable to expect a hearing in the first part of this year,” Donovan said, noting that the chairman and other members of House Financial Services have indicated that timing for a formal vetting of the legislation.
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