On March 14, the U.S. Senate just passed S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, by a strong, bipartisan vote of 67-31. This marks the first significant regulatory relief legislation for credit unions and community banks since Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 and represents a key victory for credit unions' advocacy efforts over the last several years. Not only does the legislation include relief from Dodd-Frank qualified mortgage and HMDA reporting requirements for many credit unions, it also includes an expansion of credit union member business lending (MBL) ability. S. 2155 provides that credit union loans on 1-4 family, non-owner occupied real property would no longer be counted against the MBL cap but will rather be counted as real estate loans.
The challenge now is for the U.S. House to pass the legislation without making changes that would disrupt the delicate bipartisan balance necessary to sustain Senate support. For many months, the House Financial Services Committee has actively passed dozens of regulatory relief bills, some with bipartisan support and some not, that Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) wants to see included in a final version of regulatory relief. Many of these House bills are already included in S. 2155, but Hensarling is currently pushing for more to be added. The dilemma is that Senate Democrats who supported the bill are not indicating interest in adding provisions, and changes would necessitate another round of Senate floor debate that would take up time the Senate is not likely to have.
There has been some movement this week because two provisions that Chairman Hensarling wants included (not impacting credit unions) were put into the omnibus spending bill that was passed last week to keep the government funded. It is hoped that this, along with the fact that several provisions are already in S. 2155, will convince Chairman Hensarling to relent and allow S. 2155 to be considered by the full House as it left the Senate. Whatever the case, there are still relatively high expectations that S. 2155 will eventually reach the President’s desk even if it takes several more weeks to sort out. In the meantime, the League will be actively engaging in conversations with Indiana’s House delegation where we expect nearly all to support the legislation.