WASHINGTON (11/6/14)--While the Congress coming in January will have a decidedly new look to it, the 113th Congress isn't out of office yet, which means there are opportunities for regulatory relief bills and other credit union-friendly legislation. Ryan Donovan, senior vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association, said election results could open up opportunities for credit unions.
"In general, I think this election, as far as credit unions and small depository institutions are concerned, results in a Congress that should be favorable to a regulatory relief agenda," Donovan said. "That's a fantastic thing, but we'll need to keep in mind that the window of opportunity for them to act is going to be relatively small, because the 2016 election is on the horizon."
The current Congress has one more session scheduled, traditionally known as the "lame duck" session. Some sort of spending resolution will be passed, and historical trends indicate other opportunities might be available.
"History has shown that changes in the control of Congress have been accompanied by a flurry of last-minute legislative activity, and regarding smaller matters this give us some hope for movement," Donovan said. "When we look through our end-of-session credit union priorities--the privacy notification bill, interest on lawyer trust accounts and legislation to permit privately insured credit unions to join the Federal Home Loan Bank system--we continue to see some opportunity to move those bills between now and when Congress adjourns, and we're going to press that opportunity."
Because most credit unions issues aren't partisan, movement from Congress during the lame duck could be an opportunity for these regulatory relief bills to be considered, Donovan added.
Looking forward to the next Congress, committee ratios will change, particularly on the Senate Banking and Finance committees, which will see Republicans gain seats. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) is expected to take leadership of the Senate Banking Committee.
Shelby previously chaired the committee from 2003 to 2007, and according to an American Banker report, this makes it likely he could "ramp up activity faster than some of his colleagues."
"It will be interesting to see how he runs the committee. Looking at some of his votes in the past, he voted against a repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, voted against TARP and voted for an amendment to Dodd-Frank that would have forced big banks to break up," Donovan said. "We look forward to working with Sen. Shelby."
There are also two open seats on the Federal Reserve board of governors and a likely nomination for the National Credit Union Administration board in 2015.
The House committee numbers are likely to change as well, and there could be as many as 10 new members of the House Financial Services Committee.