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WASHINGTON – While the House and Senate are on recess this week, there is still plenty of credit union work to be done on Capitol Hill before the end of the congressional session. The House was also on recess last week as well. But, in the meantime, a hearing in the Senate Banking Committee with the federal financial services regulators that has been postponed twice has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 20. The hearing was slated as part of the committee’s general oversight role of the regulators. The hearing will likely be NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar’s last before the committee following his recent announcement that he would be leaving the agency at the end of the month. While the House was out last week, the Senate worked diligently, holding hearings on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s preemptions, some of which NCUA has followed suit, and on the mutual fund industry took place. CUNA Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs John McKechnie stated that even though Congress is out on holiday, there is still work to do. “We, in the aftermath of the passage of the reg relief bill (H.R. 1375) by the House, have continued to try to push the envelope in the Senate,” he said. McKechnie continued, “Ideally, we’d like to see them take the House bill, plus a few other credit union specific provisions, and just move forward. It’s unclear at this point what the Senate’s going to do but I do think the response we’ve gotten so far from the Senate is that they’re interested in hearing input from CUNA and the credit union community. We think that there is an appetite on the Senate side to begin to move regulatory relief.” He cautioned that credit unions probably should not get their hopes up on completing the bill this year. Additionally of credit union interest, Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas) and Senator Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) unveiled legislation for the president’s lifetime savings accounts proposal, NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler noted. He added that the bill probably faced an uphill battle this year, partially due to time constraints, but also due to concerns of the structure of the accounts. Still, Thaler said, “We’re pleased to see such efforts out there to try to promote and address the issue of American savings.” CUNA Legislative Affairs Manager Leon Peace, a tax specialist, also said that Congressmen Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are planning to introduce the retirement portion of President George W. Bush’s savings proposal. Basically, he explained, the new account created would replace both Roth and standard IRAs. CUNA has been working with Portman and Cardin from the beginning on the drafting of the bill. “We’re also looking specifically at trying to preserve what is called the savers’ credit,” Peace explained. The savers’ tax-credit, which the Bush plan would eliminate, benefits low- and moderate-income workers. McKechnie also mentioned that the Senate was continuing to look for a hole in the schedule to slide bankruptcy reform (H.R. 975) in this congressional session but added that we have all heard that “song and dance” before. -

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