Berger, Waters talk CU priorities, committee's efforts
Continuing NAFCU's credit union priorities push for the new year, association President and CEO Dan Berger and Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler were on Capitol Hill Wednesday to meet with credit union champion Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and her senior staff. As chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Waters plays an instrumental role in the development of policy that impacts credit unions and their ability to serve members.
Industry growth remains NAFCU's No. 1 priority, and its 2020 legislative and regulatory priorities are all developed with credit union input to ensure the industry's continued success. The association has met with several lawmakers in recent weeks, and also sent the priorities to key officials, including President Donald Trump.
NAFCU has a strong working relationship with Waters. The association's 2019 September/October edition of The NAFCU Journal featured a Q&A with Waters, providing insights into her approach as a lawmaker and to ensure a fair playing field for credit unions. The magazine was published ahead of Waters' appearance at NAFCU's Congressional Caucus, at which she pledged to oppose efforts to remove credit unions' tax-exempt status and support efforts to allow credit unions to lend to more small businesses.
In addition to these issues, several credit union priorities align with Waters' and the committee's efforts:
- Housing finance reform: At the start of the 116th Congress, Waters stressed the need to ensure credit unions' and community banks' access to the mortgage market in housing finance reforms. She also supports a number of NAFCU's housing finance reform principles, including maintaining access to 30-year mortgages and appropriate capital reserves for the government-sponsored enterprises. Throughout 2019, the committee held a number of hearings focused on increasing affordable housing and transparency in the housing finance system.
- Regulatory reform: Members of the House Financial Services Committee introduced and advanced legislation – which was subsequently passed by the full chamber – to help modernize Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements along with allowing financial institutions to access important beneficial ownership information about companies they serve. In addition to BSA/AML reforms, the committee and the House have advanced legislation to increase transparency and accountability at financial federal regulators, including the NCUA.
- Expanding access to financial services and products: House Financial Services Committee members have also introduced legislation to give the NCUA greater flexibility in setting loan maturity limits under the Federal Credit Union Act, which would allow credit unions to provide members with more loan options. The committee has also explored the use of alternative data to increase access to credit, as well as ways to ensure a level playing field with fintech companies.
- Increasing diversity and inclusion: In October, a NAFCU witness shared with a House Financial Services subcommittee the critical role minority depository institutions (MDIs) play in serving diverse and underserved communities. After advancing out of the House Financial Services Committee, the full House last month passed legislation to expand opportunities for MDIs. The NCUA recently launched a new mentoring program to support MDIs and for the first time last year held a summit on these issues.
NAFCU has also worked with the committee to obtain relief under the current expected credit loss standard, enact national data security and data privacy standards, and more. The association will remain engaged with Waters and the committee as it reviews important industry issues, including two today on the CFPB and astroturfing.
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