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WASHINGTON — A Senate panel last week approved an amendment to raise the NCUA’s borrowing authority from the Treasury Department from $100 million to $6 billion.It’s the first action on the measure in that chamber and follows the House’s approval of the amendment earlier this year.The increased borrowing authority also gives the agency the right to borrow up to $18 billion in emergency funds, subject to the approval of the Treasury.The amendment, which increased the FDIC’s borrowing authority as well, gives the NCUA five years to replenish the NCUSIF if its equity ratio drops below 1.2%, which could allow credit unions to spread out the premium payment over five years. It was approved on a voice vote during the Senate Banking Committee’s discussion of a measure to overhaul rules on credit cards.Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) explained that “there is a sense of urgency” on the borrowing authority issue, and he hopes that it will be considered soon after lawmakers return from Easter recess the week of April 20.The amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), did not address NCUA Chairman Michael E. Fryzel’s request to raise the agency’s emergency borrowing authority to $30 billion.Nevertheless, Fryzel praised the Senate vote.“Both the House and the Senate committee of jurisdiction have acted in a way that will assist NCUA and the credit union industry, and I am encouraged for future action on the Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund legislation,” he said in a statement.Lobbyists for CUNA and NAFCU praised the Senate Banking Committee’s action.“It’s a positive action. You have a demonstration of bipartisan support for helping credit unions. It’s a good marker going forward,” said CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan.NAFCU Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said the committee vote “on the concept of expanding the repayment period and expanding the NCUA’s borrowing authority is a positive development.”The NCUA also has been discussing its proposal with lawmakers and staffers to set up the fund to help pay for the costs incurred by placing U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union into conservatorship. There is no timetable for when the proposal will be introduced.The Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund would be financed by a loan from the Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank that the NCUA would pay back over a seven-year period. The NCUA wants to create a separate entity because if the NCUSIF borrowed the money directly, the loan would become a liability for all federally insured credit unions that they would have to keep on their books.–[email protected]

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