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Senate returns with Fryzel nomination on its plate

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WASHINGTON (1/15/08)—Although JoAnn Johnson’s term as chairman of the National Credit Union Administration ended in August and the White House has officially nominated Michael E. Fryzel to succeed her, it is still unclear when the Senate may consider Fryzel's nomination, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). President George W. Bush has sent Fryzel's name to the Senate for confirmation, but the Senate Banking Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on his nomination, which is a necessary step to securing the position. John Magill, senior vice president of legislative affairs for CUNA, said Monday that the chairman of the banking committee, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has said he is not of a mind to act on many of the nominations forwarded by the Bush administration. However, Magill noted, with critical vacancies at the Federal Elections Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the banking committee may not be able to wait out the federal election in November to fill long-hanging vacancies. Chairman Johnson, in welcoming the nomination of Fryzel, said she would continue in her capacity as chairman “during this interim period,” and the NCUA confirmed Monday that the chairman’s plans have not altered. Fryzel is an Illinois real estate lawyer and former director of the state's Department of Financial Institutions. Integral to that position, according to Fryzel’s resume, was the licensing and regulation of more than 700 state-chartered credit unions with assets exceeding $4.3 billion.

Light agenda for Congress first days

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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.

CUNA offers free membervoter materials

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Click to view larger image Shane Singh, CUNA political affairs accounting coordinator (left) and Gretchen Drobnyk, CUNA political affairs vice president, test the new voter resources on CUNA’s website. (Photo provided by CUNA)
WASHINGTON (1/15/08)—-Forty-four percent of registered voters are credit union members, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), which gears up get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts again this election year. “We want to make it easy for credit unions engage members with a turnkey approach to voter activism,” said CUNA Political Affairs Senior Vice President Richard Gose. The new offerings include:
* Online voter registration; * Request an early or absentee ballot; * Polling place locator; * Election schedules; * Get-Out-The-Vote posters; * A Guide to Election Year activities; and * A free election year electronic newsletter.
GOTV statement stuffers will be available soon. The new resources are integrated with other political offerings, such as Project Zip Code, said Gose. CUNA’s online materials can be linked from credit unions’ websites. "If credit unions don't vote, credit unions don't count,” said Gose. “It's time to be counted."

Marie Osmond joins CUNA AGM cast

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WASHINGTON (1/15/08)--Children's Miracle Network (CMN) co-founder Marie Osmond will speak during the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA's) Annual General Meeting on March 3, held in conjunction with the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C. As a guest speaker, Osmond will highlight credit union support this past year of Children's Miracle Network and its Credit Unions for Kids program. Osmond appeared this season on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, finishing third in the competition. As a singer and actress, Osmond was co-host of the popular variety program, The Donny & Marie Show. She has since starred in several made for television movies, co-hosted Ripley's Believe It or Not, performed on Broadway, made the New York Times bestselling authors list, and established herself as an entrepreneur with her Marie Osmond Collectible Doll line. Use the resource link to learn more about CUNA's AGM and GAC.

Inside Washington (01/14/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (1/15/08)--The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight released a mortgage market note Friday stating that if a bill passed last May by the House is enacted, it could create credit risk for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill, which stalled in the Senate, would raise the conforming loan limit to 150%. Because of the increase, the GSEs would have to charge higher fees. In addition, most of the eligible mortgages would not count toward affordable housing goals set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development ... * WASHINGTON (1/15/08)--Foreign state-run investment funds that have given capital to major U.S. banks are under investigation as lawmakers continue to scrutinize foreign investments by U.S. companies (American Banker Jan. 14). The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee ordered the investigation to see if the infusions have caused security or economic concerns. The committee also will examine U.S. and international authorities’ oversight. The funds have received recent attention due to their acquisition of stakes in companies such as Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch and Co. ... * WASHINGTON (1/15/08)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has issued a financial institution letter of proposed rulemaking regarding the potential failure of FDIC-insured depository institutions. The first part would govern how and when deposit account balances would be determined; the second part proposes requirements to facilitate the process for determining the insurance status of deposits of large insured depository institutions. Comments on the notice are due April 14 ...