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Community Bankers Urge Senate to Focus GSE Reform on Safety and Soundness

Washington, D.C. (July 25, 2005) - The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) welcomes Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby's (R-AL) release of The Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005.

"The housing GSEs play an important part in helping community banks provide competitive mortgage financing to millions of consumers and are a key factor in our country's homeownership rate being at an all-time high," said David E. Hayes, ICBA Chairman and president of Security Bank in Dyersburg, Tenn. "ICBA supports the efforts of Congress to improve regulation of the housing GSEs, as long as it doesn't weaken the GSEs' mission or deny qualified consumers access to the financing they need to purchase homes."

In a letter to the Senate Banking Committee earlier this month, ICBA said it is essential that any housing GSE regulatory legislation establish an independent, properly funded, world-class regulatory model, comparable to a bank regulator, that will "maintain the unique structure and mission of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, preserve the GSE status of the enterprises, and protect the stability of the housing markets." ICBA also encouraged the committee to allow the regulator to base portfolio limits on safety and soundness only, not on the size and nature of their portfolio holdings, which regrettably the bill does not do.

"ICBA thanks Sen. Shelby for introducing this proposal," said Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of ICBA. "We look forward to working with him and Congress to ensure that any legislation that is enacted serves the best interests of this nation's community banks and their customers."

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