May 17, 2023

Harper illustrates CU industry stability for Congress

CapitolThe House Financial Services Committee provided oversight of the federal financial regulators Tuesday, with NCUA Chairman Todd Harper testifying to the stability of the credit union industry. Harper detailed the agency’s recent efforts to strengthen the industry and detailed several requests for Congress.

In his testimony, Harper reiterated his call for third-party vendor authority for the NCUA. Ahead of the hearing, NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler reiterated NAFCU’s opposition for Harper’s appeal, noting that the costs would be borne by credit unions – thereby impacting their 135 million members – and noted “these vendors are already examined by other regulators, and the NCUA has access to information regarding them through the Financial Stability Oversight Council upon which it sits.”

Though much of the discussion during the hearing focused on recent bank failures, Reps. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., and Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis., asked Harper about the NCUA’s recent climate-related request for information (RFI). Both Norman and Fitzgerald questioned whether it is appropriate for the agency to regulate in that area without a clear directive from Congress, regardless of the responses received to the RFI. In response, Harper noted the industry lost two credit unions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, adding that looking into climate-related financial risk is “worthy of exploration.” Harper explained the agency is gathering information to help credit unions understand what the material climate risks are.

In addition, Harper called for parity to be maintained between the FDIC and NCUA regarding deposit insurance. Of note, Thaler explained in his letter ahead of the hearing that although NAFCU urges parity be maintained in coverage amounts between the FDIC and National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, it does not support efforts that would allow NCUA to raise the Normal Operating Level via statute or to make it easier to assess premiums on credit unions.

Next, Harper is set to testify during Thursday’s Senate Banking Committee oversight hearing. NAFCU will reiterate the industry’s priorities ahead of the hearing; stay tuned to NAFCU Today for insights from the discussions.