The regulatory restructuring bill-which CUNA and NAFCU are opposing because of the interchange provisions-is likely to come up for a vote in the Senate this week, and odds are it will pass.
The measure came closer to passing the Senate when Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) announced before the recess that she would support it.
Cantwell, who opposed the bill when it first passed the Senate earlier this year, said in a statement while the bill is not perfect, it makes "significant strides toward preventing the kind of financial meltdown that we saw in the fall of 2008."
During the recess, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) hinted to a Boston television station that he might support it. "I'm going to be making a decision soon, but I'm liking what I see," he said.
CUNA and NAFCU upped the ante on their lobbying efforts against the measure last week because of the interchange provision. In his first correspondence to league officials, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney wrote that it is vital that credit unions employ their grass roots to convey credit unions' position to lawmakers.
The banking lobbyists were divided on the bill. The American Bankers Association opposed it, but the Independent Community Bankers of America took no public position. However, in a letter to state community bank associations uncovered by Bloomberg News, ICBA President/CEO Camden Fine wrote that community banks "are turning the gun on themselves" if they work to defeat the bill.
Fine stated that the big Wall Street firms don't care about small banks and "only care about the credibility small banks can wield on Capitol Hill to get them out from under this rock."
Although Democrats have 58 seats (including two independents who caucus with them) in the 99-member Senate, the path to passing the bill could be complicated. The June 29 death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) created a vacancy. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) has said he will oppose the measure because it is not strong enough. Some Republicans have promised to filibuster the measure, so the Democrats need to find 60 votes to end the filibuster.
The Democrats have pinned their hopes on getting support from some Republican senators, including Brown, Susan Collins of Maine, Charles Grassley of Iowa and Olympia Snowe of Maine.