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WASHINGTON-Congress was supposed to adjourn the last day of September, but that did not happen. Then it was by Thanksgiving. As we enter December it seems the calendar might give up on the first session of the 109th Congress before the legislators do. Congress has been in recess the last two weeks, but will return to work Dec. 6. Lawmakers are now working toward a Dec. 16 target adjournment, according to CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn. During this brief window, there is an “outside chance” the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 3505) could come to a vote on the House floor. No action is expected on the Senate side, where a bill has yet to be introduced; common ground is like quicksand concerning the industrial loan company issue. NAFCU Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler noted that a bill could be introduced early next year in the Senate. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) has been assigned the task of authoring the bill. The two lobbyists have mixed feelings on the fate of deposit insurance reform for this year. “Deposit insurance reform is tied up in one of the appropriations bills,” Kohn explained. He pointed out there is no agreement on the overall appropriations bill it has been attached to, much less the differences of opinion on actual deposit insurance reform. Right now the Senate’s version of deposit insurance reform would allow NCUA and the FDIC to set the deposit insurance coverage levels, while the House bill would index coverage periodically. However, Thaler was a bit more hopeful an agreement could be reached by year-end. He also emphasized that the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317) could possibly get a hearing in the House Financial Services Committee next year. “So it’s important to show support for the legislation, especially with the bankers lobbying against the bill,” he said. Adding CURIA co-sponsors remains a top credit union priority.

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