Senate Votes to Block TAG Extension, Unanimously Passes ATM Bill

The U.S. Senate this morning defeated a motion to waive a budget point of order on the bankers’ transaction account guarantee (TAG) bill by a vote of 50-42. The procedural vote was required to continue consideration of the bill, and in falling 10 votes shy of the needed 60, debate and consideration of S. 3637 on the Senate floor is effectively finished at this time.

“This is a win for us,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Vice President of Legislative Advocacy Jennifer Wagner. “We remain committed to pushing for passage of our MBL bill, either in a package with TAG or other banking related legislation or as part of a larger, must-pass bill in this lame-duck Congress. The path remains a difficult one, but it’s not over yet.”

The TAG bill would extend unlimited deposit insurance coverage granted during the financial crisis for noninterest bearing transaction accounts—coverage that is currently set to revert back to $250,000 at year’s end without congressional action. It has been seen for months as a potential companion for S. 2231, the credit union member business lending (MBL) bill.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has actively opposed the TAG bill as a stand-alone bill, and according to CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney, “its defeat represents a significant setback for the community banking lobby, which has been advocating for an extension of this TARP-era bailout program.”

“We will remain on guard for the possibility that the bankers will try to get the TAG bill inserted into end-of-year legislation,” Cheney stated. “It is important to note that based on our conversations with House and Senate leadership, that path appears to be closed to them; today’s vote certainly helps in that regard.  Nevertheless, it’s not over until it is over.  Congress will be in session for at least another week and a half, and we’re going to closely monitor the development of all end-of-year bills to ensure this provision does not get included without similar treatment for our MBL legislation.”

ATM Bill

The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of H.R. 4367, which eliminates the requirement under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act that ATMs carry a physical disclosure of potential fees on the outside of the machine.

The bill revises Regulation E to only require ATM fee disclosures to be presented on an ATM’s screen, easing the burdensome ATM fee disclosure regulations that have created legal and financial issues for many credit unions. Previously, so-called “ATM vigilantes” would intentionally remove or destroy disclosure stickers without the financial institution’s knowledge. Perpetrators would then take pictures of the vandalized ATM and allege the financial institution was not in compliance with disclosure rules.

“I believe the unanimous passage of this bill offers a glimmer of hope that our elected officials can be convinced to listen when we come to them with a sensible and unified message,” said Terry Belcoe, president and CEO of North Coast Credit Union, which was hit last spring with the type of predatory lawsuit eliminated by this legislation. “Our strength is in our collective voices, and I’m always encouraged when I see us work together to create this kind of outcome. Everyone wins.”

Senate passage of this legislation clears the way for the bill to be presented to President Obama, and Wagner said he is expected to sign the legislation. The bill passed the House unanimously in July.

Privacy Notification Act

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5817, the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act, by voice vote. This legislation would eliminate the requirement under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that credit unions send out annual privacy notices.

“If H.R. 5817 becomes law, credit unions would only be required to send out these notices if their privacy policy is changed,” Wagner said. “The bill now moves to the Senate, where we are hopeful it will be considered before the end of the year.”

Senate Committee Appointments

This morning, U.S. Senate Committee Appointments were announced, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was appointed to the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Merkley will be the second Oregonian in history to serve on the committee.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was named the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Wagner described as another “critical committee.” Washington’s senators also received new assignments, with Sen. Maria Cantwell serving as the new chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and Sen. Patty Murray giving up her chairmanship of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee to take over as chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee.

 

Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Vice President of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Pam Leavitt, Policy Advisor

Posted in Advocacy News, Around the NW, Events.