Consumer Groups Take Aim At Bid On Reg Relief

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A coalition of consumer groups called on leaders of the Senate Banking Committee to reject a number of amendments to the pending regulatory relief bill, including a provision that would allow privately insured CUs to join the Federal Home Loan Bank system.

The groups, including the nominal credit union-allied Consumer Federation of America, U.S. Public Interest Group, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, as well as the credit union-sponsored Center for Responsible Lending (a subsidiary of Self Help CU), said a switch of more credit unions to private insurance could risk the safety and soundness of the credit union system.

The groups have been opposing private deposit insurance because of the crisis, first in private insurance for thrifts in the 1980s, then among credit unions in the early 1990s.

The FHLB provision is not currently in a scaled-back reg relief bill passed by the Senate last month, but is one favored byretiring House Financial Services Chairman Michael Oxley. Oxley represents a district near Dublin, Ohio-based ASI, the only surviving private deposit insurer in the country.

The letter to Senate Banking Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and ranking Democrat Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) also expresses opposition to a provision that would weaken the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; a measure to remove usury limits in Arkansas; and a provision to exempt certain entities, including CUSOs, from annual privacy reporting requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

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