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WASHINGTON-Written testimony provided to the Senate Banking Committee by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Vice Chair John M. Reich drew strong criticism from CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica. “It is not just the total volume of regulatory requirements that pose problems for banks, but also the relative distribution of regulatory burden across various industries that could hit community banks hard in the future,” Reich’s testimony read, like credit unions that “have evolved from small niche players to full-service retail depository institutions.” “With ever-expanding fields of membership and banking products, credit unions are now competing head-to-head with banks and thrifts in many communities, yet the conditions under which this competition exists enable credit unions to operate with a number of advantages over banks and thrifts,” he continued. “These advantages include exemption from taxation, not being subject to the Community Reinvestment Act, and operation under a regulatory framework that has supported and encouraged the growth of the credit union movement, including broadening the “field of membership. These advantages make for an uneven playing field, a condition that Congress should reexamine and seek to resolve.” Troubled by the statement, Mica fired back in a letter to Reich, “Such comments display a serious lack of understanding of the structure and uniqueness of the U.S. credit union movement and ignore the U.S. banking industry’s own extensive history of deregulation and record profitability.” He accused Reich of sounding more like an “American Bankers Association lobbyist” than a federal bank regulator. Mica also sent copies of his letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.); Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.); and Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who is drafting the regulatory relief legislation. He also questioned the appropriateness of the comments for a banking regulator and pointed out that they were in direct opposition to the president’s position and the purpose of the regulatory relief hearing. As far as leveling the playing field, Mica noted that while credit unions are not currently under CRA, they do have “more restrictive regulations in the area of investments, capital, membership requirements, and member business lending, to name just several examples. I would therefore suggest that if the so-called playing field is tilted at all, it tips heavily in favor of the banking industry.” [email protected]

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