Board Likely To Remain At 2; Levins Surfaces

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The passage of time also makes it less likely we will see a candidate nominated by the White House to serve the remaining five years on the six-year term of Dennis Dollar. That's because presidential appointments that require Senate approval, especially such long-term appointments, get increasingly problematic as the presidential election approaches.

It is still possible, though unlikely, President Bush will nominate a candidate for Dollar's seat and the Senate will vote to confirm the appointment.

But there are several factors that will affect final confirmation. The best bet, according to several observers, is for an NCUA nomination, who will be a Republican, to be paired with a Democratic nomination, inviting approval by Democratic senators.

It is also possible, and more likely, that the White House will seat a third member of the three-person NCUA Board through a so-called recess appointment.

That is, when Congress recesses for vacation, the president appoints a candidate. The candidate does not require Senate approval under this process but may only serve until the first year of the next Congress, making it an 18-month appointment.

There is recent precedent for this, as this is how Geoff Bacino got seated on the board as a recess appointment by President Clinton.

Insiders suggest that the most likely scenario is that the NCUA Board will continue to operate with just two members, Republican JoAnn Johnson and Democrat Deborah Matz, for the foreseeable future. There is no reason why this should hamper the board's operations as very few issues before it are boiled down to partisan politics.

The issue was brought to the forefront last week as Dollar, who is leaving the agency at the end of the month, presided over his final board meeting.

Candidates are continuing to jockey for the NCUA job. Among the latest would-be NCUA Board members are former CUNA Chairman Buck Levins, who was fired last year after 40 years at Robins FCU. Levins is reported to be lobbying the Bush administration for the job. With his long service to the credit union community and broad connections, he would make a good choice.

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