Strong Congressional CU Supporter To Retire

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Rep. Michael Oxley, the Ohio Republican who chaired the House Financial Services Committee for the past five years and a staunch credit union supporter, announced last week he will retire at the end of next year, at the completion of his 13th term in Congress.

Over the past few congresses, Oxley, 61, who has represented Ohio's 4th district since 1981, has formed the core of the Ohio delegation, perhaps the strongest pro-credit union delegation in Congress. That includes such long-time credit union stalwarts as Democrat Marci Kaptur and Republicans Steve LaTourette, Bob Ney and Steve Chabot.

Oxley cited the GOP's six-year term limits on committee chairmen as one of the main reasons for his decisions. But observers were quick to point out the marketability of Oxley as an industry lobbyist after his six years heading the financial services panel.

Oxley is best known for his co-authorship of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires greater auditing and disclosures of publicly traded companies. He was also a leading player in House hearings on the Enron scandal, which led to the new law, known as 'SOX.' He is currently in the middle of the debate on reform of the secondary market, having stewarded the reform of the government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, through his committee.

He has also been a big friend of credit unions, regularly speaking at CUNA and NAFCU conferences and taking care to include credit union provisions in legislation. "Every day that he was head of the committee you felt like there were things getting done. You felt like there was a guy guiding the process who had both political sense and policy understanding," said John McKechnie, chief lobbyist for CUNA.

Oxley's retirement will set off a free-for-all among Financial Services subcommittee chairman to be the next full committee chair. The early favorites are Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who chairs the subcommittee on financial institutions, and Rep. Richard Baker, (R-LA), who chairs the subcommittee on Government Sponsored Enterprises. But two other subcommittee chairs, including Ney, who heads the panel overseeing housing, and Sue Kelly of New York, who heads the subcommittee on oversight, are also expected to vie for the top job next year.

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