WASHINGTON -- An amended version of the Senate regulatory relief bill passed the House last week, but had not been considered yet in the Senate as of press time.
The Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (S. 2856) had been placed on the suspension calendar for last Wednesday and easily passed 417-0 late that night. The suspension calendar is used to move non-controversial bills to the House floor.
The broader version of the bill had been through the House and passed overwhelmingly a few times with dozens of provisions, but this year was the first time the Senate version, which is greatly pared down from the House bill, came to a vote. An informal "ping-pong" match between the House and Senate arrived at the compromise bill that was to be voted on in the House Sept. 27 and shortly after in the Senate. Both chambers of Congress were expected to break for campaigning at the end of last week. A continuing resolution has been approved to fund the federal government through Nov. 17, when members of Congress are expected to return for a lame duck session.
The Senate bill included credit union specific provisions for the so-called "FASB fix" to bring the definition of net worth in the Federal Credit Union Act in line with nonprofit merger accounting changes expected from the Financial Accounting Standards Board, permit low- or no-cost leases by credit unions on military installations, allow credit unions to offer check cashing and wire services to anyone within their field of membership, and increase the loan maturity limit from 12 to 15 years.
The final compromise also included a section to permit the Federal Trade Commission to initiate limited oversight of private insurance disclosures and ensure state audits of the private insurer, American Share Insurance, which is the last private primary credit union deposit insurer. NAFCU, a strong proponent of federal insurance, was "pleased to see steps have been taken to enforce private insurance disclosures," Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said.
Two stumbling blocks were nimbly side stepped by lawmakers anxious to get reg relief done before returning home to campaign. The Securities and Exchange Commission was opposed to being forced to consult with the banking regulators on banks' securities activities, but according to CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Dean Sagar, a deal has been worked out.
There was also a budgetary question as to how to fund dividends if the Federal Reserve determined to pay interest on the currently "sterile" Reg D reserves, which was worked out by delaying the effective date until 2012, NAFCU Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Dan Berger said.
"Although NAFCU continues to support additional regulatory relief measures for credit unions such as those contained in the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, we wish to thank Financial Services Chairman Oxley, Ranking Member Frank and Financial Institutions Subcommittee Chairman Bachus and the other members the Financial Services Committee for their hard work on this important legislation," NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker said.
"Credit unions are delighted that the House has passed a financial institutions regulatory relief bill that is both balanced in its impact on financials and also provides credit unions with a number of key areas of relief from outdated restrictions," CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica commented. "We look forward to the Senate acting quickly on this evenhanded measure as soon as possible."
Lobbyists said the Senate was expected to move on the legislation before adjournment. --firstname.lastname@example.org