Please Activate Your Members: Congressional Action Imminent on Regulatory Relief

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Legislation that would provide for a commonsense approach for regulation of certain credit union and other community lender products (S.2155) passed the Senate in March by a vote of 67-31 as the first piece of legislation to gain consensus during this congressional session. Since then, all financial institutions have been advocating for swift passage by the House of Representatives.

However, there’s been a delay due to discussions between House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and the coalition of Senate Democrats who joined the entire Senate GOP to pass the bill. Hensarling has insisted on adding a series of bi-partisan financial services bills to S.2155, with the Senate (both parties) insisting that S.2155 is a compromised package and needs to pass as is.

Over the past month and a half (as paraphrased by the chairman), the discussions have progressed to the point that the coalition recognizes that S.2155 does not have to be a sole financial services bill that passes this year—and in fact, discussions are underway to allow a separate package consideration in the Senate. This has removed the proverbial hold on S.2155.

What Does This Mean?
Last week in an interview with The Weekly Standard, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said “we're a few weeks away” from a rewrite of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act becoming law. “The capstone of our regulatory reform agenda, to get to your question, is our replacement of Dodd-Frank,” Ryan said in the interview. “We already have a bill out of the House. We have a bill out of the Senate, which is pretty amazing. So we're going to get that done.”

This, paired by remarks from Hensarling in which he indicated an agreement has been discussed, has set the stage for action likely before the end of May.

“We are currently awaiting for news from the house majority leader’s office, which sets the House Floor schedule,” said Jeremy Empol, vice president of federal government affairs for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. “Once the bill is scheduled, this will indicate that the House GOP Conference has consensus to pass the bill and send to the president. To aid in turning up that pressure, we need credit unions to start calling and writing their representatives via ‘Connect For The Cause’ immediately. There is no time to waste on activation.”

Connect For The Cause is the Leagues’ advocacy network that allows credit union supporters to contact their representatives with the click of a button. Users can also use the network to engage their elected officials on social media.

“Phone calls, at this stage of the game, are critical,” Empol said. “The Leagues encourage all credit unions to reach out to their members and ask for phone calls to the House Switch Board, which will put you in touch with your representative at 202-224-3121,” said Empol. This grassroots action follows multiple editorials from California credit union CEOs, as well as thousands of emails sent to members of Congress.”

S.2155 Means Regulatory Relief
S.2155 contains several regulatory relief and charter items for credit unions that the Leagues have worked on for decades.

The highlight for credit unions is section 105, also known as H.R. 389 by authors and California Reps. Ed Royce and Jared Huffman. It excludes non-owner occupied, 1 – 4 unit residential loans from counting toward the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) member business lending cap. The entire House Nevada delegation has co-sponsored this legislation, and currently 28 of the 55 co-sponsors are from California.

In the past, the California delegation has had as many as 80 percent of the House delegation as co-sponsors. Currently, both California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris are co-sponsors of the Senate companion bill (S.836). Nevada Sen. Dean Heller not only voted in favor of S.2155, but also won a favorable credit union amendment to S.2155 that requires transparency in the NCUA’s budget.

“This is why S.2155 is a major success not just for credit unions as a whole, but specifically for California and Nevada credit unions,” Empol said. “For years now, we’ve put our marker on what success looks like in Congress. Our delegations, whether or not they support S.2155, have made sure credit union priorities are included. We now need to push this bill over the finish line.”

If you have questions on activating your membership or employee base, please reach out to Jeremy Empol in the Leagues’ advocacy division.