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WASHINGTON-The Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317) reached its pinnacle in legislative support thus far in its second full year in Congress. CURIA was backed by 107 lawmakers including primary sponsor Ed Royce (R-Calif.) as of press time, though the bill has hit some snags this year in co-sponsorship. Early on, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) withdrew her co-sponsorship of the bill voicing concerns over credit union expansion beyond their mission. Additionally, Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) resigned his congressional seat upon pleading guilty to receiving bribes and other charges. The two most recent co-sponsors are Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) despite strong opposition by the banking lobby. Credit union lobbyists have viewed the growth of support for the bill as crucial to either getting it passed as a stand-alone bill or having some of the key provisions, namely Prompt Corrective Action reform and expanded member business lending authorities, added into the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 3505). The American Bankers Association has indicated that adopting these two provisions would be a deal breaker for the group’s support on reg relief. “CURIA would greatly expand credit unions’ business lending authority while also weakening credit union capital regulation by lowering required minimum capital levels,” a joint letter from the ABA, America’s Community Bankers, the Independent Community Bankers of America, and the Financial Services Roundtable stated. “The current lending limits and required capital levels were mandated by Congress just a few years ago to ensure that credit unions remained true to their mission in a safe and sound manner. These proposed modifications, if passed, would be major changes to the credit union charter, and they raise serious safety and soundness concerns. They should not be considered during markup of [the reg relief] bill.” Meanwhile the credit union trades and NCUA have also been meeting with the Treasury Department and others to garner support for risk-based capital reform. Toward the end of the 2005 legislative session, it looked as if the House might try to vote on H.R. 3505, but that was quickly recognized as a pipedream. However, whatever bills were introduced this year will not have to start from scratch in the second session of the 109th Congress in 2006. -

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