Bank Fees Congress

Senate gives CUs the cold shoulder.

Credit union trade associations shrugged off a 2014 budget
amendment passed by the Senate March 22 that would “establish a
deficit-neutral reserve fund to address the disproportionate regulatory
burdens on community banks,”
according to

prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of:

2. In keeping with:

3.
 a release from sponsor
Sen.
John Boozman

 (R-Ark.).

Credit unions were not mentioned anywhere in the amendment’s
language.

CUNA

 Vice President of Legislative Affairs Sam Whitfield said the
amendment only represents the sense of the Senate and added that
“those amendments never go anywhere.”

Brad Thaler, NAFCU’s vice president of legislative affairs,
called the amendment vote symbolic and said it could be viewed as a
positive development that shows the Senate has an appetite for
regulatory reform. While
NAFCU

 would like to have seen credit unions
included in the amendment, Thaler said the affirmative vote helps lay
the groundwork for advancing an overall regulatory reform agenda that
would include credit unions.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

“Based on our conversations with members of the Senate, if
they tackle regulatory relief, it would include both credit unions and
community banks, ” Thaler said.

Independent Community Bankers Association spokeswoman Jessica Etter
said her trade association didn’t lobby for the amendment and
declined further comment.

Rather than attempt to get in on the amendment action, Whitfield
said CUNA is instead focusing on upcoming hearings by the House
Financial Services Committee that will investigate regulatory burdens on
community financial institutions.

“Those will be real hearings that will have the potential to
have the effect of law, as opposed to the sense of the Congress,”
he said, “and we hope to be there front and center.”

A Financial Services Committee spokesman told Credit Union Times
the committee plans to focus a future regulatory burden hearing on
credit unions. However, Whitfield said the committee has not contacted
CUNA asking for witnesses or testimony from credit unions for upcoming
hearings on the topic scheduled for April 10 and April 16. Thaler said
NAFCU hasn’t heard from the committee either, and said staffers
could be ironing out the details while Congress is on a twoweek break
for Easter.

Boozman’s amendment was had bipartisan sponsorship support
from Arkansas’ other senator, Democrat Mark Pryor, as well as
Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas and Democrat Joe Manchin of West
Virginia.

CULAC

 contributed $2,000 to Boozman in 2012, according to website
opensecrets.org. The same site reported that NAFCU’s PAC did not
contribute to Boozman during the 2012 cycle. During the 2010 election
cycle, when Boozman was first elected, NAFCU donated $1,000 to his
campaign, and CULAC donated $1,500. However, both trade associations
also supported Boozman’s opponent during the primaries, with
Lincoln receiving $3,500 from CUNA’s PAC and $1,000 from NAFCU.

The amendment would also fund, in the federal budget, policies that
would ease regulatory burden on community banks.

Another amendment attached to the Senate’s 2014 budget would
put an end to funneling
Fannie Mae
 see Federal National Mortgage Association.
 and
Freddie Mac
 see Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.
 guarantee fees toward
deficit reduction. Amendment #593, sponsored by Senate Banking Chairman
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), received a
thumbs-up letter of support signed by CUNA and NAFCU, as well as banking
and real estate trade associations.

“G-fees are a critical risk management tool used by Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac to protect against losses from faulty loans, and should
be used only to manage the companies’ credit risk. Increasing
g-fees for other purposes effectively taxes potential homebuyers and
consumers wishing to refinance their mortgages.” the groups said in
the March 22 letter.

The Senate resolution passed by a narrow 50-49 vote.

HEATHER ANDERSON

handerson@cutimes.com