Week ahead: Can Senate move on credit union issues before August recess?

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Lawmakers in the Senate are racing to finalize work on a variety of measures important to credit unions before the chamber begins its August recess. The House is already in recess and will not return until after Labor Day.

The Senate Banking Committee will vote this Wednesday on a package of nominations, including Kyle Hautpman, President Trump’s latest appointment to the National Credit Union Administration board. If the nomination moves forward, the full Senate will vote on whether or not to confirm him. The committee vote was previously scheduled for July 30. It is unclear why the vote was rescheduled or whether Hauptman will be confirmed and take the oath of office before Labor Day.

Credit unions enter the week with the possibility of new monies for both the Community Development Financial Institution Fund and NCUA’s Community Development Revolving Loan Fund. The House on Friday approved a package of appropriations bills containing $273.5 million for the CDFI Fund and $2 million for the CDRL Fund, though the amount granted to the latter falls far short of the $10 million previously requested by NCUA Board Member Todd Harper.

The House legislation also includes a provision that would spur the creation of a pilot program for postal banking, which much of the industry has long been opposed to.

“[C]redit unions are committed to identifying long-term solutions to ensure an efficient, self-sustaining, and affordable U.S. postal system,” Brad Thaler, vice president of legislative affairs at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions wrote in a letter to House lawmakers. “However, postal banking is not one of those solutions as it is no panacea to the financial challenges of the USPS.”

The spending package now moves forward to the Senate, though the Senate may draft its own legislation, which is likely to differ substantially from the House bill.

Deliberations on further coronavirus relief are expected to continue on the Hill this week, following Senate Republicans’ introduction last Monday of the Health, Economic, Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act, or the HEALS Act, for short. The $1 trillion package would provide an additional $190 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, though this funding round is more restrictive compared to past rounds. Small businesses have until August 8 to apply for loan forgiveness.

“Credit union priorities are still very much in the mix,” Eli Joseph, deputy chief advocacy officer at the Credit Union National Association said about relief measures during a press call.

Lastly, voters will head to the polls this week for primary elections in seven states: Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee and Washington. The Credit Union Legislative Action Council is backing 48 candidates in those races. Of particular interest to credit unions is the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, a former credit union employee who announced earlier this year that he would be leaving Congress. Heck is currently running to be the state’s lieutenant governor.

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Law and regulation Coronavirus CDFIs Election 2020 NCUA Paycheck Protection Program