Reg Relief Bill on the Move in Congress; NV Senator Acts

Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV and Senior Member of the Senate Banking Committee
Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV and Senior Member of the Senate Banking Committee

Last week the Senate Banking Committee passed S. 2155, a regulatory relief measure targeted for credit unions and community banks. This bill, unlike other overhaul packages, has a legitimate chance of passing both chambers of Congress as the authors and sponsors are bi-partisan.

Currently, the bill has 12 Republican co-sponsors and 12 Democrats. If all Republicans are unified, it will allow for enough votes to pass the bill from the Senate. Because the Senate has a filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to limit debate, major policy changes need strong bipartisan support. Currently, Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the upper chamber.

The bill, which now moves to the Senate floor, contains several provisions that are positive for credit unions. While it does not provide 100 percent relief from all the rules and regulations of the past six years, credit unions will greatly benefit.

The top provision within S. 2155 is the inclusion of S. 836, the Credit Union Residential Loan Parity Act, which will end a long-standing oversight in the treatment of non-owner occupied (NOO) residential loans. Credit union advocates have used our grassroots strengths to lobby in favor of this measure since its creation in 1998.

“The years of continual support from our House and Senate delegation made this a viable candidate for this package,” said Jeremy Empol, vice president of federal government affairs. “We are thankful to have the help of senators like Dianne Feinstein, who have co-sponsored this individual bill for multiple sessions, which inevitably provides enough support for inclusion in larger bills.”

Credit unions also won a significant victory with the inclusion of an amendment by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee. For many years Heller has advocated for the passage of the NCUA Budget Transparency Act, which requires the National Credit Union Administration to hold at least one public hearing on its budget to shed light on its operations.

“The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act would improve our nation’s financial regulatory framework for local Nevada credit unions and help ensure that they are not unfairly burdened by Washington’s failed one-size-fits-all approach,” Heller said in an interview with CU Weekly. “Through my hard work, I was able to secure an amendment to S.2155 that would help Nevada credit unions by mandating that the National Credit Union Administration publish an annual public budget and hold a hearing for the public to comment on NCUA activities. This would ensure that Nevada credit union members will always have their voices heard in Washington, D.C. As a supporter of this bill, I will continue to fight to get it signed into law.”

“Credit unions greatly appreciate the long-term commitment senator Heller has made in ensuring this legislation becomes law,” Empol said.

Additional credit union provisions in S. 2155 include:

  • The ability to designate all loans held in portfolio as qualified mortgages.

  • Allowing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to issue a Truth in Lending regulation on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans.

  • Exemptions in Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) reporting requirements.

  • Allowing for flexibility in the examination schedule for qualifying credit unions.

  • Requiring a U.S. Treasury story on “cyber threats” to financial institutions.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor once the party leadership can schedule consideration and address additional procedural hurdles. The very bi-partisan nature of this bill means that some sensitivities and considerations must be taken, which may slow down activity. Credit union supporters can send letters to their senators at www.ConnectForTheCause.com.

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