A 2014 budget amendment passed by the Senate would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to address the disproportionate regulatory burdens on community banks,” according to a release from the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.)
Credit unions were not mentioned anywhere in Amendment #389’s language. Industry trade associations shrugged off the exclusion.
CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Sam Whitfield said Monday the amendment approved Friday only represents the “sense” of the Senate, and added that “those amendments never go anywhere.”
Brad Thaler, NAFCU’s vice president of legislative affairs, called the amendment vote “symbolic” and said it could be viewed as a positive development that shows the Senate has an appetite for regulatory reform. While NAFCU would like to have seen credit unions included in the amendment, Thaler said the affirmative vote helps lay the groundwork for advancing an overall regulatory reform agenda that would include credit unions.
“Based on our conversations with members of the Senate, if they tackle regulatory relief, it would include both credit unions and community banks,” Thaler said.
Independent Community Bankers Association spokeswoman Jessica Etter said her trade association didn’t lobby for the amendment, and declined further comment.
Rather than attempt to get in on the amendment action, Whitfield said CUNA is instead focusing on upcoming hearings by the House Financial Services Committee that will investigate regulatory burdens on community financial institutions.
“Those will be real hearings that will have the potential to have the effect of law, as opposed to the sense of the Congress,” the CUNA lobbyist said, “and we hope to be there front and center.”
A Financial Services Committee spokesman told Credit Union Times the committee plans to focus a future regulatory burden hearing on credit unions. However, Whitfield said the committee has not contacted CUNA asking for witnesses or testimony from credit unions for upcoming hearings on the topic scheduled for April 10 and April 16.
Thaler said NAFCU hasn’t heard from the committee either, and said staffers could be ironing out the details while Congress is on a two-week break for Easter.
Boozman’s amendment was had bipartisan sponsorship support from Arkansas’ other senator, Democrat Mark Pryor, as well as Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
CULAC contributed $2,000 to Boozman in 2012, according to website opensecrets.org.
The same site reported that NAFCU’s PAC did not contribute to Boozman during the 2012 cycle. During the 2010 election cycle, when Boozman was first elected, NAFCU donated $1,000 to his campaign, and CULAC donated $1,500. However, both trade associations also supported Boozman’s opponent during the primaries, with incumbent Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln receiving $3,500 from CUNA's PAC and $1,000 from NAFCU.
The amendment would also fund, in the federal budget, policies that would ease regulatory burden on community banks.
“Community banks play an important role in our financial system and are often seen as a pillar of the community. Maintaining an interest in the communities they serve is a vital service they offer. While we need regulations, the rules imposed on these institutions, particularly those resulting from the Dodd-Frank bill, make it difficult to serve their customers,” Boozman said in a release.