WASHINGTON (7/13/10)—The U.S. Congress returned to session this week after its Independence Day District Work Period, and the action credit unions will want to watch is mostly concentrated in a busy Senate schedule. The Senate, reconvening yesterday afternoon to take up judicial nominations, also has on its agenda a final vote on H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and a vote on the Small Business Lending Fund Act (H.R. 5297). Each bill has its hot-button topic for credit unions. H.R. 4173, the comprehensive financial regulatory reform package, includes a provision requiring government price setting for interchange fees, which is strongly opposed by the Credit Union national Association (CUNA). And Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has introduced an amendment for The Small Business Lending Fund Act that would increase the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of total assets, up from the current 12.25%. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has underscored the urgency of continued credit union grassroots action on both bills. Cheney urges credit unions to continue to encourage their senators to back the increased MBL cap. He also urges continued opposition to the interchange provision, the inclusion of which in the regulatory reform bill has forced CUNA’s opposition to the package. Also on the Senate agenda this week is a vote on a supplemental appropriations bill, so while a vote is expected on H.R. 4173 late this week, it is also possible—and perhaps likely—that the Senate will not complete action on all of these bills this week. And a hearing of note this week: the Senate Banking Committee will conduct a nomination hearing for Janet Yellen to be a member and vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board, as well as for Peter Diamond and Sarah Bloom Raskin to be members of the Fed Board. The House has a lighter schedule this week. Of interest to credit unions:
* Consideration of the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act (H.R. 5114), which, as the name implies, would re-order the priorities of the program, and also provide a five-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. The programs most recent temporary extension lapses on Sept. 30.