WASHINGTON-The treatment of nonprofit credit unions is different from other financial service providers because of their structure and the work they do, Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) told GAC attendees. “It is very important for the credit union movement to keep in mind that there are very, very strong forces arguing that if you become like a bank you should be treated like a bank,” he commented. “The important thing in the differentiation in treatment relates back to the purpose and function of the credit union movement,” Sarbanes said. He added that credit unions are doing good work and the best way to fend off the bankers’ attacks is to continue serving their entire communities. In an interview after his remarks, he commended credit unions’ work in the area of lifeline services for immigrants like wire transfers and financial literacy. Sarbanes has introduced a bill in the Senate to allow credit unions to provide wire transfers and check cashing services to anyone within their fields of membership. He called some of the financial literacy materials he had seen from credit unions “first-rate” and noted their work to fight predatory lending. He also applauded the World Council of Credit Unions for their work in underdeveloped parts of the world. For these reasons, Sarbanes said, “I very strongly support that differentiated treatment and I think it’s safe to say that won’t change in this Congress and hopefully in.” The rest of his statement was drowned out by applause from the audience. The retiring senator afterward would not hint one way or the other how a regulatory relief bill might look in the Senate or when it might be introduced. “We’ll see how the hearing goes. Some of the issues.are quite controversial,” Sarbanes said. The much-debated industrial loan company issue is the most obvious, he commented. On NCUA’s efforts at documenting credit unions’ service to those of modest means, which he has favored and spoken of at past GACs, he said, “It is important and we’ll see how it proceeds.” -

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