elcome to 2020. If
you thought 2019
was stressful, you
may be in for
quite a surprise.
It’s an election year and under
the best of circumstances, you
would probably have to lower
your expectations about what’s
likely to be accomplished.
It goes without saying that these
are not the best of times.
But the amount of unfinished
business left over from 2019 is
staggering. And since 2019 was
only the first year of the current
Congress, legislation that was
left undone last year may still be
considered on Capitol Hill.
So, let’s look at some of the
leftovers, in no particular order.
Last year was quite an
accomplishment for proponents
of marijuana banking, but by
the end of the year, the issue still
The House passed its bill and
Senate Banking Chairman Mike
Crapo (R-Idaho) said he was
Senate might be able to mark up a
bill by the end of the year.
By the end of the year, Crapo
had issued a long list of concerns
he has about the legislation. His
concerns were many and difficult
He made it clear he’s opposed
to the House bill, which means his
committee would have to approve
a measure and the Senate would
have to pass it.
Then, differences between
the House and Senate would
need to be reconciled before the
conference report could go to the
floor in each House.
That’s an awful lot to accomplish
For the first time in several years,
there’s a three-member NCUA
board, but it’s easy to forget that
the term of Republican member J.
Mark Mc Watters has expired.
He’s simply serving until
President Trump nominates a
successor and the Senate confirms
With the election approaching,
Trump may want to leave
his imprint on the board by
nominating someone soon so that
if he loses, his candidate is already
on the board.
And speaking of that three-
member board, by the end of 2019,
it looked like there was a growing
divisiveness among its members.
Democratic member Todd
Harper indicated he had tried
to negotiate a compromise with
Chairman Rodney Hood over
Harper’s proposal to add three
staff members to the agency for
He added that those
negotiations had broken down.
McWatters indicated he was
inclined to vote with Harper
to defeat the budget, but said
passage of the budget was more
important, so he voted for it.
Last year, Hood had said the
agency would consider proposed
rules governing subordinated
debt and credit union-bank
mergers by the end of the year.
That didn’t happen. Mc Watters
said he has been promised a rule
on subordinated debt early this
year, but there was no further discussion of the banking proposal.
Since it’s an independent agency, the election may not have as
large of an impact on the board,
but there are still a lot of question
marks out there as to whether the
board can function as a well-oiled
It seems like every year, the
number of outstanding issues at
the agency is daunting.
This year is no exception.
Court is scheduled
to hear arguments in
March on whether the
agency’s structure is
Depending on what
the court decides, the
agency could be thrown
into even more chaos.
If the structure is found
to be unconstitutional,
what happens next?
Does the court say
it’s up to Congress to resolve the issue?
And how does the
agency function until
The CFPB has a ton of
outstanding issues wait-ing to be resolved.
Director Kathy Kraninger has
promised she will issue the final
payday lending rule this spring.
The agency seems to be headed
toward gutting the strict payday
lending rule issued by former
Director Richard Cordray, but the
devil will be in the details.
The agency also has debt
collection rules to consider.
The agency issued a proposed
rule last year and just about
everybody hated it. Consumer
groups said it could still lead to
harassment of debtors. And the
debt collection industry said it
was not given enough freedom to
try to collect debts.
Given the number of comments
filed on this one, it might be a
while before we see final rules.
Then, there’s UDAAP. What
exactly constitutes an abusive act
or practice has never been well
defined. Former agency acting
Director Mick Mulvaney and
Kraninger have promised some
guidance or rule defining it. The
agency even held a symposium
on the issue.
But as 2019 ended, it was still
hanging out there.
Bank-Credit Union Issues
As the year ended, the sniping
between banks and credit unions
appeared to be escalating once
The Independent Community
Bankers of America had begun a
high-profile “Wake Up” campaign
designed to remind everybody
of the evils of tax-exempt credit
And some House Republicans
had begun discussing some of the
group’s talking points on credit
unions’ purchases of banks.
In December, the credit union
industry had a couple of large
victories. The full U.S. Court
of Appeals for the District of
Columbia declined to hear the
American Bankers Association’s
challenge of the NCUA’s Field of
This issue could be headed for
the Supreme Court.
And second, Congress decided
not to provide banks with the
same free rent benefits on military
bases that credit unions now
Despite those victories, or
maybe because of them, banking
and credit union trade groups
don’t appear to be ready to bury
the hatchet anywhere besides in
each other’s backs.
As usual, the list of issues that
Congress has attempted to resolve
but hasn’t remains long.
At the end of the year, the
House and Senate passed the
14th extension of the National
Flood Insurance Program. At least
this time, they didn’t pass a one-month extension.
This one lasts until Sept. 30, the
end of the fiscal year. Members of
the two congressional committees
handling the issue have been
working on long-term fixes for
the program, so that deadline
should give them time to enact a
comprehensive bill, right?
We’ve already dealt with
marijuana banking, but the House
Financial Services Committee
also has approved dozens of
bills that likely will die before the
Senate ever considers them.
For instance, remember
Chairwoman Maxine Waters’
(D-Calif.) proposal to reinvigorate the CFPB after
Mulvaney and Kraninger made
the agency more pro-business?
Didn’t think so.
And then Congress will have
the perennial issues, like funding
the government. Fortunately, the
NCUA is funded by credit unions,
not taxpayers, so any funding
uncertainty won’t hit the agency
Is that list long enough for you?
There probably are more, but I’m
just about out of space here and
if you’ve read this far, your nerves
may be too frayed to continuing
Suffice it to say, buckle up. It’s
gonna be a bumpy ride. n
It’s Going to Get Bumpy
THE CU CAPITAL INSIDER
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