Community Banker Bill Shadow Boxing with CURIA
WASHINGTON-There are a number of striking similarities between the Communities First Act (H.R. 2061) and the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317). While CURIA has garnered the support of 101 lawmakers so far, H.R. 2061 has a respectable number at 79, a number of whom are the same. Credit unions have worked, and continue to do so, to get some of the provisions from CURIA included in the overall Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 3505). They succeeded in getting the provision to change the definition of net worth for credit unions into the bill to avoid an unintended consequence of accounting standards changes and continue to work to get prompt corrective action reform and member business lending provisions included. Five of the 15 provisions from the Communities First Act have been integrated into the overall reg relief bill. There has even been a cross over in strategies. "We are not trying to get it passed as such." Independent Community Bankers of America SVP and Director of the Congressional Relations Group Steve Verdier said. "The bill was designed to gather as many co-sponsors as possible and add it into other bills." He explained, "It's very difficult to get a bill like CFA moving on its own." Credit unions have worked to do the same thing, and have even had a few stand-alone bills on check cashing and wire services and the net worth definition `fix.' That is where the bankers feel the similarities end. "The differences are stark," Verdier said. "Communities First is truly regulatory and tax relief." The bill would ease certain Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requirements, trims back reporting on the institution's condition under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, and exempts smaller institutions from Sarbanes-Oxley, and provides reduced tax rates and deferrals of income recognition for long-term CDs, among other things. By contrast, he asserted CURIA seeks new powers for credit unions. He also pointed out that the Communities First Act has been introduced in the Senate, a feat that credit unions have yet to achieve. "Just to get a bill like this introduced in the Senate is a chore," Verdier admitted.