Reg. relief moves forward in funding package

July 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (7/24/15)--A broad package of reforms, many of which would reduce the regulatory burdens of credit unions, were backed by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee as that panel approved The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (FSGG).

On Wednesday, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee voted to include the entirety of Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015 (S. 1484) as it approved the FSGG funding bill (News Now July 23). The full committee voted Thursday to approve the total package by a 16-14 vote.

The committee also amended the bill to prohibit funds in the bill from being used to block or penalize financial institutions that provide financial services to legal marijuana vendors in states where marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal purposes.

The overarching bill provides appropriations for agencies responsible for regulating the financial, telecommunications, and consumer products industries, among a number of other things. The next stop for the Senate bill is a vote on the Senate floor. Shelby's relief measures have also been approved by the Senate Banking Committee, which he chairs.

Once that occurs, the Senate and House must work out differences between the legislation as it passed the House earlier this month and the changes to the bill--like the regulatory relief language--that occurred during the Senate's consideration.

"At this time it would be impossible to predict what relief provisions will survive the final days of debate and votes," said Sam Whitfield, CUNA deputy chief advocacy officer. "But it is a victory for credit unions and the members they serve that these important reforms have been backed two full Senate committees, a subcommittee, and will be considered on the Senate floor."

Shelby's S. 1484 includes CUNA-backed provisions such as: authority for privately insured credit unions to become members of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) system; a requirement that directs federal banking agencies to conduct a study of appropriate capital requirements for mortgage servicing assets; a requirement that National Credit Union Administration to hold public budget hearings; assurance FHLB membership for credit unions with under $1 billion in assets will have parity with similar-sized banks; and removing  escrow for future insurance payments from the points and fees calculation.

CUNA also supports provisions that would change the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These include: bringing agency funding into the appropriations process; changing leadership to a five-person board; repealing the prohibition on Congress reviewing transfers from the Federal Reserve System to the CFPB; and requiring the bureau to submit quarterly reports on its activities.

Also included in the appropriations bill is $221 million for the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and $2 million for the NCUA’s Community Development Revolving Loan Fund.