Fizz Goes Out of CURIA-Lite

WASHINGTON – (April 30, 2008) The credit union lobby was licking its wounds yesterday, hours after congressional leaders pulled the credit union regulatory relief bill from a scheduled vote in response to a massive outpouring of opposition by the bankers.

John Magill, chief lobbyist for CUNA, said he was confident the CU Regulatory Relief Act would have gotten the two-thirds majority necessary under the House’s so-called suspension rules, if the bill had been put to a vote yesterday, as planned. “I believe we had the votes,” said Magill.

But hundreds of bankers descended on Capitol Hill in recent days, lobbying against the credit union bill. Leaders in both parties were reluctant to have their members vote on what turned out to be a controversial bill, pitting two powerful constituencies against each other, as election season is approaching.

Ron Ence, senior lobbyist for the Independent Community Bankers Association, said his group had sought to amend language in the bill so that entire U.S. cities, such as San Francisco, Miami, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, would not qualify as underserved areas, as they currently do under NCUA rules. The ICBA also wanted language requiring loans credited to underserved areas actually are used in those areas.

“We wanted to tighten down the definition of underserved, so that underserved means underserved,” Ence told The Credit Union Journal yesterday. “But they (the credit union lobby) weren’t willing to sit down and compromise.” (Credit Union Journal)