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WASHINGTON-NCUA Board nominees Rodney E. Hood and Gigi Hyland explained credit unions’ role within financial services and defended the tax exemption during confirmation hearings last week. Hyland explained to the Senate Banking Committee that credit unions “play a vital role” in the marketplace and, as their regulator, safety and soundness would be her top priority. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) then asked Hood whether he saw any trends that could harm credit unions. He responded by noting that a drive by some to tax the credit union industry could be detrimental to the charter and credit unions’ ability to serve the underserved. As he was exiting the hearing for a vote on the Senate floor, Shelby said he hoped to move on the two NCUA nominees, and three others addressed in the hearing, “as soon as possible.” Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) took over the hearing from there. NAFCU Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Debbie Kwon Moore noted that Martinez had previously said taxing larger credit unions should be looked into, but did not raise the matter at the hearing. He focused much of his questioning on an area he was familiar with, namely questions for the Department of Housing and Urban Development nominee; prior to being elected to the Senate, Martinez served as the HUD Secretary. However, affordable housing is an area that credit unions are keenly interested in. “Credit unions certainly can play a seminal role in that,” Hyland noted, through Individual Development Accounts and low-cost mortgages. Hood emphasized, “It is important to create public-private partnerships.” He addressed an Access Across America Economic Empowerment Summit on the agency’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson has stressed this same point through her Economic Empowerment Summits and former Board Member Debbie Matz worked toward partnerships with the NeighborWorks program through her Partnering and Leadership Successes workshops. On the eve of the hearing, CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica lent his support to the two candidates. In an Oct. 24 letter to Shelby, Mica wrote, “It is critical that the NCUA operate with a full board as soon as possible in order to assure that the agency has the critical personnel in place to fulfill its mission of assuring the safety and soundness of our nation’s credit unions and the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF).” NAFCU also recently wrote a similar letter. -

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