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WASHINGTON-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has expressed his interest in naming conferees to the bankruptcy reform legislation, but he will not be able to until the Senate reorganization is complete, which does not look so promising. According to CUNA Vice President and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn, “Hopes of getting that resolved soon have kind of evaporated.” Kohn also said that they would like to see Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) on the conference committee because he is a true Democratic supporter of the reform legislation. Aside from that, Democratic opponents to the bill, especially Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Mont.), have said they would filibuster the several procedural motions that need to be approved before the conferees can be named. According to NAFCU Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler, Wellstone plans to raise a procedural matter that the bankruptcy abuse reform bill, as a revenue-raising bill, should have begun in the House. If so the Senate may have to scrap their own bill, pick up the House version and replace it with their language, which would open the bill up to further amendments. NAFCU Senior Legislative Representative Murray Chanow said that he would not anticipate any danger coming to the credit union-supported provisions, including means testing, mandatory financial education, and reaffirmations. While the House has the option of adopting the Senate language the move is seen as unlikely by credit union lobbyists, because of strong differences of opinion on the homestead exemption, which limits the assets a bankruptcy filer can hide in the value of their home. In any case, Thaler said, “While it may move, we still expect there to be some fireworks along with that.” “I think that there are some pretty high level but, probably, behind the scenes discussions about the composition of the Democratic Senate conferees on bankruptcy,” CUNA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs John McKechnie agreed. In other action inside the beltway, after a month of debate, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the education reform bill, which includes provisions for financial education in elementary and secondary schools nationwide. In a late session June 14, the Senate passed the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act (S.1) by a vote of 91 to 8. The House also passed a similar bill, No Child Left Behind (H.R. 1) in May by a 384-45 margin. The credit union-backed financial literacy provisions came courtesy of Senators Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.). Among other things, the bill permits the Department of Education to provide grants to states for youth financial literacy programs and requires the funds be used for students at all grade levels. Additionally, on June 13, matching Individual Development Account (IDA) bills were re-introduced in the House and Senate to make the accounts more widely available (see story page 11). Congressmen Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas) in the House and Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on the Senate side re-introduced the Savings for Working Families Act (H.R. 1060/S. 1025). IDAs are also included in the charitable giving and charitable choice bills in the Senate and House, respectively. Credit union Hill lobbyists also expected Congress’ focus to shift more towards appropriations legislation. Issues of importance to credit unions include the Central Liquidity Facility borrowing authority (See related story on this page), the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund Program, and US Agency for International Development (USAID) with regards to WOCCU’s efforts in South Africa and Mexico. [email protected]

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