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October 4, 2010

RE: Federal Update for the Period Ending October 1, 2010

I. Congress Adjourns After Passing Stopgap Spending Measure
II. Small Business Jobs Act Becomes Law
III. White House, Congress Focus on Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network
IV. Community Reinvestment Act Reform Legislation Introduced

Dear Mayor:

The staff of the National League of Cities (NLC) serves as our advocate in our Nation’s Capital. They have provided us with the information for this update on recent developments.

I. Congress Adjourns After Passing Stopgap Spending Measure

With lawmakers eager to focus on their reelection campaigns, Congress adjourned on September 29, eight days earlier than originally scheduled. Among their last actions was the adoption of a continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap spending measure that will fund government operations from October 1 to December 3, 2010.  The CR was necessary because Congress failed to enact any of its 12 regular spending bills for fiscal year 2011, which began on October 1.  With the exception of funding for Census activities and military base realignment and closing activities, the CR calls for level funding for most federal programs.  House and Senate members are expected to return mid-November in what will likely be a contentious lame-duck session to complete action on a fiscal year 2011 spending plan and tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year.

II. Small Business Jobs Act Becomes Law

In another effort to create and save jobs, Congress approved and the President signed H.R. 5297, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.  The Act includes a new $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund that will provide capital to small banks with incentives to increase small business lending; $12 billion in tax breaks for small businesses; an extension of Small Business Administration (SBA) Recovery Loan programs; and an increase in the maximum loan size for certain SBA loan programs.  

IIIWhite House, Congress Focus on Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network

Recently, both Congress and the Administration took steps toward building a framework for a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network.  On September 23, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing entitled "Keeping Us Safe: the Need for a Nationwide Public Safety Network."  The centerpiece of the discussion was Chairman John Rockefeller's (WV) Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act (S. 3756), which NLC supports.  The legislation calls for the reallocation of the D-Block of radio spectrum to public safety and for funding for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a nationwide public safety broadband network.  
That same week, the Administration convened a two-day forum featuring speakers from both the public and private sectors regarding the governance, structure, funding, and other significant issues surrounding a nationwide public safety broadband network.  Along with NLC staff, Bill Schrier, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Seattle, represented NLC at the hearing. 

IV.   Community Reinvestment Act Reform Legislation to be Introduced this Week 

Last Thursday, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (MA) introduced long-anticipated legislation to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).  H.R. 6334, the American Community Investment Reform Act of 2010, would give federal regulators significant new authority over banks and non-bank financial institutions to monitor and enforce penalties for unsound or abusive lending practices, such as those driving the home foreclosure crisis.

Conversely, the bill would reward banks and financial institutions for serving local community credit needs such as providing financing for community development projects, affordable housing development, or construction of community facilities in historically underserved neighborhoods. The bill would also close loopholes that permit large national banks to establish affiliated mortgage lending companies whose mortgage loans are not subject to CRA examinations or requirements.

Although Congress has adjourned until after the November elections, Chairman Frank has indicated the bill will be a top priority for his Committee next year, and a House vote on the bill could come as early as the lame duck session of Congress. 

Barring any unforeseen developments, we will next alert you to Congressional activities after the elections. If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121.

Very truly yours,


William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director




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