Action Alert: NCUA and Congress

Image of capitol building in Washington D.C.

While an agreement to fund the government for three months was quickly passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week, it would appear that Washington, D.C. tempers may have calmed down.

However, with Congress now working to turn that three-month “stop gap” into a full year's budget, the scene has become complicated for credit unions. First, some numbers:

  • There are 435 members in the House of Representatives (1 vacancy).
  • 217 votes are needed to win.
  • There are 12 months in the fiscal year, starting Oct. 1.
  • There are three months until the next “fiscal cliff”.
  • There are 12 appropriations bills, eight of which are condensed into one large bill. There were also two massive hurricanes within the past two weeks.

These numbers are essentially the factors driving the House of Representatives and its agenda, which complicates everything. In order to fully fund the government (for nine months of the fiscal year), Congress must pass the annual appropriations bills. These bills are typically expenditure-only measures and do not dictate policy. However, political leaders, knowing these bills are must-pass, have added “policy riders” that glide along with the funding bills.

This is where things get tricky. As part of H.R. 10 (the Financial Choice Act), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and all banking regulators (including the National Credit Union Administration—NCUA) would be brought under the general appropriations process. This was not a problem when the bill passed the House, although credit unions made it known that bringing NCUA under the appropriations process was not something the industry supports.

To increase the likeliness of this bill becoming law, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee requested and was allowed to add these and other provisions to the government appropriations bill, which is currently pending on the House floor.

In an attempt to right the ship, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV, Reno) and Pete Aguilar (D-CA, Redlands)—who are members of the House Appropriations Committee—have joined together to strike this section of the funding bill, knowing the merits of the policy are being debated in the Senate where policy bill H.R. 10 is awaiting action.

Last week the House began debate of the massive spending bill in sections. The area covering the NCUA (and all banking regulators) is at the very end of the bill and will be last to be debated. In fact, the Amodei-Aguilar Amendment is number 251 of 255; and when the House adjourned on Friday, it only reached as far as number 68.

Before last Friday, debate on the amendment was expected to occur sometime between Thursday evening and Friday morning. However, with a three-month government funding package agreed to and the impact of Hurricane Irma looming (not to mention that the Florida delegation left Washington, D.C.), Congress was forced to adjourn. They scheduled to reconvene today (Tuesday); however, as of print time, it is unknown what the remainder of this week will look like, what amendments will be considered, and how this critical vote will (if ever) happen.

For now, credit union supporters need to call, not email, their members of Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask them to vote in favor of the Amodei-Aguilar Amendment pending on the House floor.

Please stay tuned to the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Advocacy Blog for further details.

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