Week ahead: Senate to consider NCUA board nominees

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It could be a big week for credit unions, provided a potential government shutdown on Friday doesn’t slow things down.

After more than two years with a short-handed boat at the National Credit Union Administration, the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday is scheduled to consider the nominations of Rodney Hood and Todd Harper to open seats on the board. Both have a history with the agency – Hood as a former board member and Harper as a long-time staffer – and their nominations have been praised across the industry. Hood, a Republican, would take over for Rick Metsger, who has stayed on since his term ended in August 2016, while Harper, a Democrat, would fill the seat vacated by former Chairman Debbie Matz when she left the board in April 2016.

The Senate panel is also expected to consider nominations for the Federal Housing Finance Administration on Thursday. Assuming nominees for both agencies are approved, they would then move on to the full Senate for confirmation. The Senate this week may also hold a final vote on William Barr's nomination as attorney general.

At the same time as new NCUA board members are being considered, the agency is scheduled to hold what could be the final board meeting for the two-member panel consisting of Metsger and Chairman Mark McWatters. The agency’s February open board meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m., is expected to cover a final interagency rule and assess loans in areas that are prone to hazardous flooding. The flood relief item was originally proposed in fall 2016.

Much of this week’s legislative effort will be put toward averting another government shutdown. A short-term funding bill passed last month is set to expire Friday, and if Congress can’t come to a funding agreement, nine agencies and more than 800,000 federal employees will be impacted.

Lead negotiators aren't confident, however, as the legislative impasse becomes increasingly insurmountable. Arguments are very much reminiscent from those that took place in December, with some of the largest disagreements stemming from how much money – if any – should be allocated to President Trump's border wall.

Other government business will still go ahead this week, however, including four scheduled hearings in the House Financial Services Committee. One hearing, on providing businesses in the legal marijuana space with access to banking services, could be crucial in furthering discussions that bring clarity to the difference in state versus federal laws regarding marijuana. Rachel Pross, chief risk officer at MAPS Credit Union in Salem, Ore., is set to testify on behalf of the Credit Union National Association.

The committee is also expected to hold hearings on the homelessness crisis in America and affordable housing in rural parts of the country.

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Law and regulation Finance, investment and tax-related legislation Compliance Government shutdown Mark McWatters Rick Metsger NCUA Senate Banking Committee House Financial Services Committee