Congress Races To Finish Its Work, While Maine Lawmakers Get Ready For the Upcoming Session

Congress is once again sprinting to finish its work before its scheduled holiday adjournment. With the upcoming break only days away, credit union leaders are busy keeping an eye on several items on Congress’ agenda.

First, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must be passed and enacted. In prior years, this defense spending bill has been a battleground for banks and credit unions in determining whether banks should have rent-free access to America’s military bases. While this was debate was not argued this year, credit union leaders and banks have remained interested in the NDAA because the House version of the bill includes the SAFE Banking Act language. Despite bipartisan support for this language in the House, it appears the Senate will remove it from the bill when they consider it. This has furthered frustrations from SAFE Act supporters in the House. It has been reported that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) doesn’t have the votes within his caucus to support the SAFE Banking Act, as some members are holding out to include the SAFE Banking Act in a broader marijuana decriminalization bill. This position has dashed hopes that 2021, or possibly even 2022, will be the year that this important legislation is enacted by Congress.

Congressional Democrats are hoping to give final approval to President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) plan before leaving for the holiday break, however, there are reports indicating that the final agreement will occur after the new year. BBB once included language to require financial institutions to report the inflows and outflows of individual accountholders to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). The financial services industry rallied together to voice their opposition to this proposal, including the League and our partners at CUNA. Those efforts made significant progress, and while it is still too early to claim victory, the House version of the BBB plan did not include the IRS requirement. Currently, there are indications that the Senate won’t include it either. There is support for this initiative from several senators, including Senator King. The League has maintained good dialogue with Senator King’s office on this matter and will continue to engage and advocate on this important policy issue. Senator Collins has made her opposition to the IRS proposal known to the League.

Meanwhile back at home, state lawmakers are preparing to return to work during the first week of January. This session, known as the “short session,” has a statutory adjournment set in April instead of June. There are several policy matters the League is preparing to monitor and engage on, the biggest likely being continued discussions and considerations around consumer data privacy and data security. Additionally, the Legislature will consider modernization of Maine’s notarial laws, including the possible adoption of remote online notary services. The League has been participating in a working group led by the Secretary of State’s office and other interested parties in studying bringing remote online notarization to Maine.

2022 promises to be a busy year for the League’s governmental affairs efforts. A gubernatorial election, legislative races, and contested congressional elections will keep credit union advocates busy and intrigued.

If you have questions regarding state or federal legislative activity, please email Robert Caverly, League Vice President of Governmental Affairs, or Ellen Parent, League Legislative & Regulatory Advocacy Coordinator.