WASHINGTON (8/5/08)—The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) lobbying efforts while Congress is in recess will focus on meetings with Senate staffers to promote passage of the Credit Union, Bank and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act (CUBTRRA). And while CUNA keeps the heat on in Washington to try to get CUBTTRA on the Senate suspension calendar before yearend, credit unions and the leagues are encouraged by CUNA to use the lawmakers’ time in their home districts to keep up the drive for the more comprehensive Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA). That bill has 151 official backers in the House, including Rep. Doug Lambourn (R-Colo.), the most recent supporter to sign on to the bill. The Senate bill has four co-sponsors in addition to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who introduced the bill in that chamber in May. CUNA’s John Magill, senior vice president of legislative affairs, said Monday of CUNA’s CUBTTRA push that he believes there is a shot for final passage this year. “We will be working to keep CUBTRRA on the minds of lawmakers and I believe we have a shot of at passage by unanimous consent in the Senate despite a very tight legislative calendar,” Magill said. “The thing to remember is that with unanimous consent, just one Senator can stop the progress of a bill, and that always can make a precarious situation for a bill,” he warned. Both houses of Congress are back in session on Sept. 8, but then recess for the year on Sept. 26. As its name suggests, CUBTRRA contains measures that would benefit credit unions, as well as banks and thrifts. Among provisions for credit unions, the bill proposes to:
* Allow all federal credit unions to apply to serve underserved areas, reversing the effect of a banker lawsuit that has prevented community and single-sponsor credit unions from reaching out to underserved areas; * Provide increased MBL ability by exempting MBLs made in underserved areas from a statutory 12.25%-of-assets cap; CUNA estimates more than 40% of the nation's census tracts are located in underserved areas; * Grandfather previously approved underserved fields of membership for credit unions; and * Allow short-term payday loan alternatives within a credit union's field of membership.
The more comprehensive CURIA also proposes a risk-based capital system for credit unions and an increased cap on member business lending, among other things.