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MBLs and more on tap as Congress returns
WASHINGTON (4/16/12)—Although increasing member business lending (MBL) authority for credit unions remains the top priority for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions as members of the U.S. Congress return to Washington this week, CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said there are a number of other issues of interest to credit unions brewing.

A vote on  Senate MBL legislation, to increase the lending cap to 27.5% of assets, up from 12.25%, is expected soon, but likely will not happen this week. House MBL sponsor Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) has said that a vote in that chamber would follow a Senate vote.

The House and Senate will remain in session until April 30.  Agendas for this stretch of the congressional calendar are still being developed, but a House Financial Services Committee vote is scheduled this week to address a deficit package that incorporates some changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), among other issues.

Under the House package, funding for the CFPB would be subject to the congressional appropriations process. The NFIP provisions would extend the flood insurance program for five years. Similar NFIP legislation is active in the Senate. The flood insurance program is set to expire on May 31. It has been extended through a long series of short-term extensions since 2008.

Other portions of this package would end the Dodd-Frank Act's so-called "Too Big to Fail" bailout fund and eliminate the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). According to a committee release, the total spending cut package would reduce the national deficit by an estimated $35 billion.

Other pieces of  pending legislation of interest to credit unions include:

  • A bill to permit the National Credit Union Administration to allow credit unions to accept additional forms of capital, provided it does not alter the cooperative ownership structure of credit unions (H.R. 3993); and
  • A bill to ensure that credit unions and other entities or individuals that provide information to the CFPB would not waive their right to privacy protections (S. 2099).
There also are bills to enhance the fairness of financial institution examinations pending in both the House and Senate. Housing finance reform and cybersecurity standard improvements are also current topics of interest in Congress.

Donovan said the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 (S. 1789) is also of interest, as the bill would reduce postal service days from six to five and give the postal service greater flexibility in how it increases its rates.

As noted, the House and Senate will remain in session until late April.

After that, the Senate will take an in-district work period between April 30 and May 6, and then will remain in D.C. until the long Memorial Day weekend. The Senate is then scheduled to be out of session between May 28 and June 3. A nearly monthlong Senate session will begin on June 4 and last until July 1.

The Senate will not be in session the week of July 4, but will return to Washington on July 9. A four-week Washington-based work session will follow.

The House has a similar schedule, but House members will return to their districts in the week before Memorial Day, May 21 through May 25. Unlike the Senate, the House is scheduled to be in session on May 30 and 31. The House has also scheduled a week-long district work period from June 11 until June 15.

Both chambers of Congress are scheduled to begin their summer recesses on Aug. 6.


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