WASHINGTON — Early last week, credit union lobbyists were hopeful that the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act would make its way to a final vote by the end of the week, but budgetary concerns threw a wrench in the process. On Sept. 11, CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill said a senior Rules Committee staffer said that it could be placed on the suspension calendar, which allows noncontroversial bills to come up for a vote as time permits. However, NAFCU Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler discovered later on and has been reported that the bill cost more than the government had originally thought. Part of the legislation in question is the authority granted to the Federal Reserve to pay interest on “sterile reserves,” which could mean millions for credit unions. He emphasized, “It doesn’t require the Fed to pay interest. It just allows them to make the decision.” The budget issue is a considerable hurdle because it takes the bill off the suspension calendar so a budget waiver will be necessary, CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Dean Sagar explained. Sagar believes Congress has time to deal with this problem though given retiring Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley’s (R-Ohio) interest as well as the entire financial services industry. Thaler, too, was hopeful, noting, “there is an optimism” from Hill staff that the legislation could pass this year. Other credit union provisions in the legislation include allowing wire transfers and check cashing to all potential members within a field of membership, extending the loan maturity limit from 12 years to 15, permitting low- to no-cost leases of land to credit unions on military installations, and amending the definition of net worth for new Financial Accounting Standards Board merger accounting requirements.

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