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WASHINGTON-In the time between the congressional spring recess that recently ended and the Memorial Day recess at the end of May, Congress is expected to consider several issues affecting credit unions and other financial institutions. CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn said that he has received “fairly certain information” that the regulatory relief legislation will be raised for markup in the full House Financial Services Committee near the last week of May. Another source in Washington provided the more specific dates of May 20 and/or 21. The markup could last two days because a number of bills aside from regulatory relief could be considered, the source said, including check truncation, flood insurance, and ones concerning housing and tornados. The source added that secondary capital and member business lending provisions for credit unions were not expected to come up in the full committee markup of the regulatory relief legislation. A regulatory relief bill is not expected in the Senate until well into the summer because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act reauthorization and the privacy issues associated with it. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who has expressed interest in regulatory relief, is a strong supporter of consumer privacy, as is Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). The House and Senate reconvened last week following a two-week recess. Other legislative interests for credit unions: * NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler said he anticipates the first of several hearings on the reauthorization of the FCRA to occur before the next recess. *In what CUNA Legislative Affairs Manager Leon Peace, tax specialist, termed “esoteric,” the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures planned to hold a highly technical hearing shortly after deadline to consider pension savings rates. Debate over the president’s overall tax package will begin in the Congress this week, he said. * In addition, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan followed up on remarks he had made earlier this year to the House Financial Services Committee last week. His original testimony on the economy and monetary policy did not provide enough time for the lawmakers to ask all their questions so he agreed to return April 30 to respond additional queries. In related news, Thaler explained that public comments recently exchanged between President George W. Bush and Greenspan regarding his acceptance of another term as Fed chairman were aimed at clearing up any uncertainties concerning the agency’s top spot and helping the markets. Nothing was official as of deadline. * The Colorado and Wyoming leagues spent time on Capitol Hill last week on respective `Hike the Hills’ lobbying on credit union issues. * On April 30, CUNA sent a representative to a Senate Small Business Committee Roundtable relating to the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) lending program (See related story). * The Senate leadership remains deadlocked over how to proceed with bankruptcy reform. * The House International Relations Committee was scheduled to markup the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003 (S. 571) last week, but it was postponed until May 7. The bill, aimed at reducing global poverty by supporting economic growth and development, would establish the Millennium Challenge Corporation to grant funds for eligible nations to provide technical assistance in developing a Millennium Challenge Contract, financial management, and evaluation of programs related to the act. To be eligible for MCA assistance, a country must suffer significant poverty; demonstrate a commitment to `just and democratic governance,’ economic freedom, and investing in its people; and must enter into a Millennium Challenge Contract with the U.S. Last month, CUNA and the World Council of Credit Unions wrote a joint letter to the committee supporting the objectives of the initiative and asking the committee to consider credit unions’ “vital role” in stimulating growth in low-income communities. The letter emphasized the need to allow non-governmental organizations and private voluntary cooperatives, including credit unions, to have the chance to present ideas to the corporation for grants. -

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