WASHINGTON - Congress shouldn't rush to restructure the way financial services are regulated and consider all options, including ending the NCUA's status as an independent agency, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) said at the NCUA symposium last week.
"I don't know that I'd say yes or no. There has to be a process of elimination," he told
Credit Union Times
when asked if the agency should stay separate or be merged with other financial institution regulators.
He made his comments following a 20-minute speech at the conference, organized by Board Member Gigi Hyland to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Federal Credit Union Act.
Kanjorski, the No. 2 member of the House Financial Services Committee and one of the strongest backers of credit unions on Capitol Hill, urged his colleagues not to design a "superficial patch up" of the regulatory system but rather approach it in a "thorough and deep" manner.
The Obama administration has said it plans to unveil its proposal later this month and would like to have it enacted by the end of the year. Most of the leaks on the plan haven't mentioned the NCUA.
In his speech, Kanjorski said there should be "as many corporates as we need but not one more."
He also reiterated his support for lifting the cap on member business loans, which was imposed when Congress passed HR 1151 in 1998.
"We accepted trade offs in that bill that we shouldn't have had to," he said.
The measure reversed a U.S. Supreme Court decision and gave credit unions broad authority to expand their membership. It limited the new community charters for credit unions to well-defined "local" communities.
Kanjorski did not assess the likelihood of lifting the cap, which has received some support in Congress but has been strongly opposed by the banking lobby.
He also expressed support for public over private insurance for credit unions because he said private insurers can "cherry pick" customers and thus force the NCUSIF to insure the more risky credit unions. Ideally, he said, the structure should be all public or all private.
Kanjorski urged credit unions to redouble their efforts to remain true to their mission of providing quality, low-cost financial services, especially to underserved communities.
"During difficult times there is nothing that means more to folks in a community than a credit union with a helping hand," he said.