Freeze ‘does not apply’ to NCUA – but ‘spirit’ will be followed

Jan. 31, 2017 -- A regulatory freeze imposed by the Trump administration does not apply to NCUA, as it is an independent federal financial regulator, but the agency will “adhere to its spirit,” according to a statement issued by the agency today.

However, the freeze will have no impact on the effective date of the new field of membership rule for federal credit unions slated to take effect next week (Feb. 6), nor an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on alternative capital issued for a 90-day comment period at the NCUA Board’s Jan. 19 meeting, according to John Fairbanks of NCUA’s Office of Public and Congressional Affairs.

“NCUA has reviewed the January 20 memorandum from the White House Chief of Staff on a regulatory freeze and has determined that, as the agency is an independent federal financial regulator, it does not apply,” Fairbanks said in a statement. “NCUA will nonetheless adhere to its spirit.”

Fairbanks also pointed out in his statement that the Jan. 20 memo instructs agencies to send no regulations to the Federal Register for publication until a department or agency head appointed for designed by President Donald Trump reviews and approves the regulation. Last week, the president designated J. Mark McWatters (a fellow Republican) as acting chairman of the NCUA Board. “And all pending NCUA regulations have been approved by unanimous vote of the agency Board,” the Fairbanks statement said.

Fairbanks also pointed out that, since May 2016, all regulations approved by the NCUA Board have been required by statute or have provided federally insured credit unions with regulatory relief. Those include, he stated, the final field-of-membership rule (was approved by the Board last October and effective Feb. 6); the proposed field-of-membership rule (also approved by the Board last October); and the ANPR on alternative capital. The ANPR has not yet, however, been published in the Register.

“By moving forward with these rulemakings, NCUA is working to decrease regulatory burdens,” Fairbanks stated.