WASHINGTON — Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry on Monday urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would extend the on-site examination cycle for small banks from 12 months to 18.

"We think a greater number of healthy well-managed community institutions ought to qualify for the 18-month examination cycle," Curry said in remarks at an Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act meeting in Chicago.

The House passed a bill earlier this month that would double the threshold for qualifying for an 18-month examination cycle for institutions with less than $1 billion of assets.

"I am pleased that the House voted earlier this month to raise the asset thresholds to $1 billion and I am hopeful the Senate will follow," Curry said. "It would not only reduce the burden for those well-managed institutions, it would allow us, the federal banking agencies, to focus our supervisory resources on those banks and thrifts that present capital, managerial or other issues of significant supervisory concern."

The Congressional Budget Office estimates there are 500 to 600 institutions that would be eligible for the expended on-site exam cycle if the threshold were raised to $1 billion.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby has also introduced a regulatory relief bill that would increase the eligibility for less frequent on-site exams from $500 million to $1 billion.

Separately, Curry said that exempting banks with less than $10 billion in assets from the Volcker Rule is also "ripe for congressional action."

"We do not believe it is necessary to include smaller institutions under the Volcker Rule in order to realize congressional intent, and we recommend exempting the more than 6000 banks and thrifts with less than $10 billion in assets," Curry said.

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