Committee Passes CU Priorities: Postal Banking, CDRLF Grants

Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA, Pomona)
Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA, Pomona)

The power of the purse was on full display this past week as the House Appropriations Committee passed the Financial Services and General Government spending bill. While the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and other banking regulators are not funded by the U.S. taxpayer, credit unions participate in several programs funded in this process.

The two hot topics for credit unions are postal banking and NCUA grants via the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF).

On the CDRLF front, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supported the $4 million allocation, which is administered by the NCUA’s Office of Credit Union Resource and Expansion (CURE). Specifically, the Leagues worked with Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA, Pomona) to secure language allowing CDRLF techinical assistance awards be used for the purposes of hiring grant writers for larger projects.

Grant writing for smaller credit unions has been a barrier, especially for access to the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI). Torres’ language will apply to small credit unions, typically those under $100 million in assets.

"The Leagues and CUNA would like to thank Representative Torres for her support, and for working diligently to seeing this come to fruition," said Jeremy Empol, vice president of federal government affairs for the Leagues.

With respect to postal banking, which the Leagues and CUNA oppose in general, the committee requested the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) allocate $6 million of its operating budget to a pilot program for expanding check-cashing and surcharge-free ATM services. There was discussion, and even a failed amendment, to strike this section. Several members of the committee, including Torres, had previously expressed support for the USPS to partner specifically with credit unions to execute this item.

This bill is advancing to the House floor. The path forward for all spending bills depends largely on the White House and the Senate. However, once an item is in those bills, it is difficult for it to be removed when a final spending agreement is reached. These bills are typically combined into an “omnibus," which is typically due at the end of the fiscal year.

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