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LAYTON, Utah – Credit union trade groups have known for some time that key industry bills are dead for this session in Congress, but that message also got delivered by a Utah Congressman to the Utah League of Credit Unions at its annual meeting convened here last week. “Nothing will happen” on major CU or banking bills because of other more pressing issues like taxes, forecast Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in a kickoff speech. He said the fate of CU bills would rest with new Senate/House leadership in 2007. Bishop also predicted inaction on a CU conversion bill submitted by U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) following a much-touted May 11 hearing. “The hearing was held and nothing happened there,” said Bishop using a refrain about Congressional antipathy toward moving bills given an election year and the existing political environment. In commenting on the hearing, Bishop, who is a member of the House Rules Committee and represents Utah’s 1st Congressional district in north Utah, had to get help from the audience on whether the McHenry session was about mutual savings banks or community banks. Bishop, who has long been considered a key CU backer, also waded into Utah’s bank/CU scrap, maintaining the battle was a needless waste “when the markets are broad enough for both banks and credit unions to work and grow side by side.” He said it is gratifying that CUs “are doing well” in his state and on that front he stressed he personally appreciates the work they do in local communities. He said he also is grateful for the support his office gets from CUs. Bishop said the present hostile environment with banks might change “when personalities are gone.” He told a reporter later that would include Harris Simmons, the ABA chairman and CEO of Zions Bancorporation. “Yes he is one of the key players,” acknowledged Bishop. Regarding the fate of CU and banking bills, he said Congress has too much on its plate to deal with financial institution reforms. So “nothing bad will happen and nothing good,” observed the ex-Utah House speaker and former Brigham City school teacher. “The wait and see,” he said will come in the November elections with U. S. Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) moving up to Senate Banking Chairman provided the GOP holds on to Senate control. Bishop also told Credit Union Times that in a perverse way the banking/CU brawl is a field day for politicians in terms of fundraising. When he was in the legislature, he never received the kind of financial support he can muster today because of the emotion-laden bank/CU issue. -

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