WASHINGTON-Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a very liberal Democrat, has announced his interest in becoming the next ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. He made his intentions clear June 27, just one day after current Ranking Member John LaFalce's (D-N.Y.) decision not to seek re-election for a 15th term. Redistricting in New York would have forced LaFalce to run against eight-term Democratic incumbent Louise Slaughter. Frank is considered a shoe-in for the 2002 elections. Frank, the committee's second-ranking Democrat after 11 terms, is not expected to be contested when committee leaders are chosen in January. Both CUNA and the American Bankers Association have given Frank's campaign $3,000 each, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. CUNA Vice President and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn said this year's contribution to Frank is historically consistent with past years and with other senior lawmakers on the Financial Services Committee. "He has been a very strong supporter of credit unions in the past.We look forward to working with him," Kohn said. NAFCU Communications Manager John Zimmerman commented, "Barney Frank has been a very strong ally of credit unions." He pointed out that Frank intervened at crucial moments when lawmakers wanted to include a Treasury official on the NCUA Board and wanted credit unions to include their 1% deposit in the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund in their books in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Improvement Act. According to NAFCU Director of Political and Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler, NAFCU plans to contribute to his campaign this election cycle, which they have done in past elections. He pointed out that Frank spoke at NAFCU's 2000 Congressional Caucus and was very supportive of credit union issues, particularly the tax exemption. Frank was also a key figure in Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act. While not directly involved, he also supported the Credit Union Member Access Act, in which LaFalce was an integral part. As LaFalce announced he would not seek re-election, credit union trade associations were not anxious to see one of their key supporters on the Hill go. "John LaFalce has demonstrated a strong interest credit unions and has served our country admirably," CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica, a former colleague of LaFalce's on the Hill, said. "Over his long tenure in Congress John LaFalce demonstrated any number of times that he was a great friend of credit unions," NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan said. He also added that LaFalce was "very responsive" to credit union issues as a lawmaker. LaFalce served Western New York for 32 years, including two in the New York State Senate, two in the New York State Assembly, and 28 in the U.S. House of Representatives. For eight years her served as Small Business Committee Chairman and for the last five years, as Ranking Democrat on Financial Services. "In that span of three decades, I have met and worked with some of the most talented and noble men and women in this country. I shall treasure each and every one of those relationships. "But there comes a time to seek new horizons," Congressman LaFalce said. He also said that New York's redistricting map, which would have him running against fellow incumbent Democrat Louise Slaughter in the race for the 108th Congress, pushed his decision not to run for a 15th term. He added that he does not plan to retire. "I am doing what so many in this country now do at my point in life-changing careers," he said. "Whether this career change will take me back to the law, or a career in social justice, academia, corporate governance or other public service, I simply do not know. But I am excited and enthusiastic at the prospect of exploring this vast range of new opportunities. "I have often been asked why I chose to be in public service. The answer is simple: there is no greater satisfaction than to serve one's community. I have consistently believed and said that public service gives one a unique opportunity not only to serve one's fellow citizens, but to be engaged in, and apply one's mind and heart to, the great issues of our day, to be fully involved in the action and passion of our time. My experience has underscored that perspective." LaFalce was also a major contributor to the Credit Union Membership Access Act and had introduced legislation to include credit unions in the federal reserve bank fee study, though lately he had come head-to-head with credit unions on a couple of issues, including the Faith-Based Member Business Lending bill and some aspects of the regulatory relief package. [email protected]

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