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Warren drops CRA mandate for credit unions as part of housing bill

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., dropped a requirement that credit unions face Community Reinvestment Act obligations from a revamped affordable housing bill introduced on Wednesday.

The 2020 presidential hopeful reintroduced her legislation called the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, originally introduced in September 2018, but removed the contentious provision that had won praise from bankers but sparked fierce opposition from credit unions.

Credit unions were quick to claim victory on the latest bill, offering their support for the revised version.

“The legislation rejects a one-size-fits-all approach by explicitly excluding credit unions from the Community Reinvestment Act and instead codifying the already existing community outreach, input, and oversight policies that credit unions have been abiding by for more than 20 years under National Credit Union Administration regulations,” Jim Nussle, president and chief executive of the Credit Union National Association, said in a letter to Warren.

The revised bill would still extend CRA to cover "more non-bank mortgage companies," according to a summary released Wednesday. It would also invest billions of dollars into affordable housing trust funds. Those include $445 billion into the Housing Trust Fund and $25 billion in the Capital Magnet Fund.

Additionally, the bill would prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and source of income, among other things.

Warren’s legislation faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate. It is co-sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and 15 House Democrats, but no congressional Republicans have signed on.

The bill is also being supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, several civil rights and consumer groups, and the National Rural Housing Coalition.

"The cost of housing is squeezing American families in communities all across the country — rural, suburban, urban — whether they're struggling to pay rent or trying to buy a home,” Warren said in a press release. “The legacy of government discrimination and negligence means that communities of color have been hit the hardest. It's time to stop nibbling around the edges and, instead, pass this big, bold proposal to solve our housing crisis and take the first steps to address the legacy of housing discrimination head on."

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