Full Court Press on Financial Services
The NCUA's handling of the corporate credit union crisis will be among the credit union-related topics that the House and Senate banking panels plan to deal with during the next two years.
The Senate Banking Committee plans to provide "continued oversight" of the NCUA's corporate credit union's stabilization efforts, according to the panel's two-year oversight plan issued by Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).
The House Financial Services Committee's oversight plan calls for the panel to "review issues relating to the safety and soundness and regulatory treatment of the credit union industry. In particular, the committee will examine the failures in the corporate credit union system and evaluate possible reforms to the system and to the National Credit Union Administration."
Because of the scope of the corporate credit unions' problems, and the need for industry to tap government loans to help solve the problems, Congress has wanted to ask questions about the agency's initial handling of crisis and its remedies.
Neither document outlined legislative remedies on the corporates because lawmakers are awaiting a report by the Government Accountability Office about the subject.
A bill passed by Congress late last year mandated the report and gives the GAO up to a year to conduct it. Congress will then review the findings and likely hold hearings and then decide if it needs to take additional legislative action.
Johnson and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the panel's top Republican, have expressed concern about the impact the assessments levied by the NCUA to pay for the corporate credit union rescue and to shore up the NCUSIF could have on the viability of many credit unions.
NCUA Director of Public and Congressional Affairs John Mc-Kechnie said the agency isn't surprised to be the subject of additional scrutiny.
"Both committees plan to conduct extensive examinations of all aspects of the financial services industry so it's not surprising we will be a part of that," he said.
The agency's inspector general's material loss reviews on U.S. Central and WesCorp will be used as a resource for the GAO as will other documentation and interviews with agency officials and representatives of industry groups.
The Senate panel also plans to review prompt corrective action and net worth standards for credit unions, limits on member business loans and the issue of insuring interest on lawyers' trust accounts at credit unions.
The committee hasn't released any legislative proposals on those issues nor given any timetable for when hearings might take place.
But the MBL hike, capital reform and PCA have long been top priorities of the credit union industry and NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz has written to lawmakers urging them to take action on those issues as well.
While both the House and Senate committees plan to spend considerable time overseeing the implementation of the financial overhaul bill passed last year, they are likely to approach it differently.
So far the House panel, which is controlled by Republicans, has taken a more aggressive role in questioning how the Obama administration has gone about implementing the measure, especially the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Fed's power to cap debit interchange fees.
The House document said that the panel plans to "identify and remedy" any unintended consequences of the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul.
The Senate panel's document said it will work to ensure that the letter and spirit of the law are being implemented by regulators and the law is being enforced. They also promise to be sure that regulators have adequate resources and that "legitimate concerns" about the law are considered.
Another area where the chambers' approaches differ is on interchange.
The House panel has already scheduled a Feb. 17 hearing on interchange while the Senate panel's oversight plan said that the committee "may wish to examine this issue."
The Fed's proposed rule would cap card interchange at no more than 12 cents per transaction. According to the proposed rule, the allowable costs for interchange would be limited to no more than the issuer's allowable costs divided by the number of electronic debit transactions on which the issuer received or charged an interchange transaction fee in the calendar year. Or the issuer could receive debit interchange capped at 12 cents per transaction.
Comments on the Fed's proposed rule are due Feb. 22 and the rule must be approved by April 21 and in effect by July 21.