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WASHINGTON — It doesn’t work quite the way American government textbooks describe it: Congress passes laws and leaves it at that, while regulatory agencies like the NCUA and the Federal Reserve get into the nuts and bolts of rules and regulations and are independent, though members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The reality is a bit different.

Whether it has been giving consumers more protections from the abusive practices of some credit card companies or getting credit unions to be more transparent, the NCUA has responded to lawmakers’ inquiries by passing policies that reflect the congressional agenda.

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