Bad Check Bill Passes Panel

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WASHINGTON - (10/28/05) -- The House Financial ServicesCommittee on Thursday approved several bills aimed at easing theburden on financial institutions helping in the reconstruction ofNew Orleans and other areas hit by the recent spate of hurricanes.The first was a credit union-backed measure to indemnify all creditunions and banks against bad or phony checks cashed in theaftermath of the hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, wheninstitutions were relaxing their identification and other standardsin order to facilitate the relief efforts. The second would morethan double funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency'sNational Flood Insurance Program from the current $3.5 billion--afigure arrived at just three weeks ago--to $8.5 billion. Anotherincrease is likely in the weeks or months ahead as FEMA officialsconcede that the nation's only flood insurance program may wrack upmore than $22 billion in costs to pay claims. A third willencourage credit unions and banks to work with customers/members tocontinue to extend repayments on existing loans to facilitate therelief efforts in those areas. The bills are expected to becombined in some way before they are voted by the full House, thensent on to the Senate.

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