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Senate focus lands on MBLs in weekend session

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WASHINGTON (12/20/10)—Even as the Senate legislative calendar is compressed with the end of the year fast approaching, and is dominated by such urgent issues as deciding the fate of Bush-era tax cuts, credit union issues still came front and center of lawmakers’ attention this weekend. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) Sunday requested unanimous consent on the Senate floor for his bill, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act. That bill would increase the member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of a credit union’s assets, up from the current 12.25%. Under the unanimous consent procedure, it takes just one senator’s objection—even if just objecting to the procedure itself--to derail the legislation’s immediate progress. And that objection came from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). However, Udall’s floor statement in favor of the legislation once again underscored for his Senate colleagues the economic benefits the MBL cap lift would provide. Udall noted, “The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) estimates that these sensible reforms would increase small-business lending by $10 billion within the first year of enactment, with an increase of nearly $200 million in my home state of Colorado alone, just as an example. “This new access to credit is also expected to produce over 100,000 jobs nationwide. To me, it sounds like a pro-business, pro-jobs policy that we can all agree on.” The senator from Colorado also reminded that the MBL increase has the backing of the Senate Banking Committee, the U.S. Treasury Department and the National Credit Union Administration. He added, “The National Small Business Association, the National Association of Realtors, and even the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, among others, have gotten behind our efforts and they’re urging us to pass this important provision.” CUNA commended Udall for his effort to win passage of the amendment to raise the statutory cap before Congress adjourns for the year—likely early. “His willingness to try again for passage in the final days of this Congress is indicative of how strongly he believes in the good his amendment would do not only for credit unions but for the nation’s small businesses and the economy as a whole,” CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said Sunday. Cheney said CUNA shares Udall’s expressed disappointment that an objection was raised preventing a Senate floor vote. “We will continue to advocate for raising the cap given small businesses’ pressing need for affordable capital and the nation’s need for measures that will create jobs without imposing costs on taxpayers or swelling the federal deficit. This fight is not over.” Although the Senate and House are poised to recess for the year, when the 112th Congress convenes in January capital reform will CUNA’s top priority while the trade group continues to work on MBL with key supporters, Cheney vowed.

Friday sees closing of Ariz. CU

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (12/20/10)--AEA FCU, Yuma, Arizona, was placed into conservatorship because of a declining financial condition and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) assumed control of its operations Friday. In an announcement late in the day, the NCUA said the credit union was not adequately capitalized under standards set forth in the Federal Credit Act, and had earnings “insufficient to enable it to continue under present management.” The agency said the credit union’s difficulties sprang from problems in its loan portfolio. The agency announcement reminded that the decision to conserve a credit union enables the institution to continue normal operations with “expert management in place correcting previous service and operational weaknesses.” Service to AEA’s 49,130 members shall continue uninterrupted. The credit union has assets of $309 million, and provides financial service to people living in Yuma and La Paz counties.