NCUA Reps Cover The Hill With Testimony

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NCUA was all over Capitol Hill last week.

First, NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday to ask for another $950,000 for the agency's Community Development Revolving Loan Program to expand financing for the program's technical assistance grants.

Over the past decade the program has grown from a little-used $6-million fund to a pool with almost $18 million in it, with the aid of more than $10 million in new appropriations. Since low-cost funding has become readily available for low-income credit unions participating in the program from numerous other sources because of the low-interest-rate market, the focus of the fund has become the small grants that are awarded to low-income credit unions to help them pay for a variety of programs. Those include capital expenditures, income tax assistance for low-income members, financial education, student interns, staff training and the addition of new products and services like international remittances, ATMs, and mortgage lending.

Johnson also asked the Senate appropriators to renew the borrowing limit for the agency-run Central Liquidity Facility, the emergency lending fund for credit unions, at the current $1.5 billion in case of a run on credit unions.

Then, NCUA General Counsel Bob Fenner was testifying Wednesday before a House Financial Services Subcommittee discussing recent incidents of online security breaches. Fenner was scheduled to tell the committee what the credit union regulator is doing to help credit unions combat the widening epidemic of online identity theft and unauthorized use of member accounts.

Later that day, NCUA representatives were expected to provide the same Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions with the agency's recommendations for an impending regulatory relief bill, that was to be the subject of hearings the following day. NCUA's chief priority, they told committee members, is the implementation of a risk-based capital system for credit unions that will include a redefinition of net worth to allow credit unions to continue combining, or "pooling," their capital and counting it as net worth after mergers.

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