NWCUA Federal Legislative Week in ReviewCopy

The latest news about NWCUA efforts in Washington D.C.

The CUNA GAC is right around the corner and we know that many of you are packing your bags. Your Participant Handbook should have arrived at the credit union late last week or today, Tuesday. If you are a first-time attendee or are interested in hearing more about what to expect during the action-packed, four day conference, NWCUA staff are hosting a conference call at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23. We will go over the NWCUA unique events, give our input on some of the conference briefings and sessions we recommend you don’t miss, and share some general tips and advice. For call-in information, email Jennifer Wagner at [email protected].

As we gear up to send nearly 200 Credit Union Advocates from the Northwest to Washington D.C. next week, things on Capitol Hill are ramping up as well. Last week the House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit held a hearing regarding the Interchange Amendment to the Wall Street Reform Act. You can watch the hearing by viewing the archived webcast. In an email sent shortly after the hearing, Bill Cheney shared the following:

“As you know, CUNA testified in the House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit regarding the Durbin Debit Interchange Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act. Frank Michael, President and CEO of Allied Credit Union in Stockton, CA was our witness, and the only witness at the hearing representing small issuers. Other witnesses included Federal Reserve Board Governor Sarah Raskin (testifying on the first panel), a florist from New York, Commerce Bank of Missouri, Visa, the Merchant’s Payment Coalition, and 7Eleven (testifying with Frank on the second panel).

Governor Raskin testified on the first panel and received a number of questions from the Subcommittee regarding the small issuer exemption, the impact of the 12 cent proposal, the methodology and chronology of the Board’s development of the proposed rule, whether the Board needs more time to consider the rule, whether Congress needs to intervene to clarify what costs need to be considered, the costs and responsibilities for fraud, and the involvement (or lack thereof) of small issuers in the development of the proposed rule.

The testimony of the second panel was predictably conflicting with three witness representing both sides of this debate. Frank delivered a strong opening statement and was able to make several points in the question and answer period including why the small issuer exemption is not likely to work, what the impact will be on his members and other credit unions’ members. Toward the end of the hearing, Frank was able to emphasize that the Durbin amendment is bad public policy; the Board’s rule is bad public policy; and the Congress needs to act because if they let the rule go into effect it will have a devastating effect on credit unions and their members. Frank’s presentation was roundly commended, and he and Ken Watts were able to visit with Chairman Capito following the hearing.

In the district, we met with staff to both Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Once again, we shared our vital concerns with the Federal Reserve’s proposed rule on the interchange amendment and what it could mean for Washington credit unions and our members. We asked the staff to prepare the Senators’ for our upcoming meeting in which interchange will be a priority discussion item.

The way things are shaping up on Capitol Hill, our trip there next week is incredibly timely. The Financial Services hearing on interchange has opened up the conversation about options to reform or delay this rule. At the same time, committees on both the House and Senate side are finally firmed up and hearing schedules are starting to be formed. This is our opportunity to insert the credit union message and our priorities into the overall agenda. Now….the work begins.