Results are in for National GAC

Within one week of the conclusion of the GAC, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced legislation (the
Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, S509) increasing the authority of credit unions to make business
loans to their members. By the end of that week, 15 senators from both sides of the political aisle, had signed on as cosponsors.

by CUNA President & CEO Bill Cheney

Just two weeks ago, more than 4,000 credit union faithful met here in Washington to discuss and act upon the key issues. And act they did: Two major legislative priorities are in play in Congress today — because of credit union action at our GAC. Here’s a brief rundown:

MBLs

Within one week of the conclusion of the GAC, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced legislation (the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, S509) increasing the authority of credit unions to make business loans to their members. By the end of that week, 15 senators from both sides of the political aisle, had signed on as cosponsors.

We also followed up with a letter to all senators, noting Sen. Udall’s efforts — but also punching back on claims made by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) in a letter it previously sent to all senators, attacking the credit union business lending effort. In our letter, we laid out the facts:

  • Business lending by credit unions could create nearly 140,000 new jobs and inject more than $13 billion into the economy;
  • Unlike the $30 billion of taxpayer money given to banks as an incentive to lend to small business, increasing the credit unions business lending cap could be done without spending a dime of taxpayer money and without increasing the size of government;
  • There are nearly 350 credit unions at or quickly approaching the existing business lending cap (accounting for about 60 percent of all business lending) — unless the existing cap is increased, the ability of these credit unions to continue to serve their small business-owning members will be in jeopardy.

Interchange

Within two weeks of the conclusion of the GAC, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced legislation delaying implementation of the Federal Reserve’s rule capping interchange fees. In announcing his bill, Sen. Tester said of the existing Interchange law, “it’s not going to do for the consumer what folks thought it would do when it was passed.” In support of Sen. Tester, we worked with the Montana CU Network and local credit unions to produce letters to editors, op-ed pieces and a radio ad to be aired and published locally. Similar actions are being taken in other, key states where local senators are supporting Tester’s bill.

Press

We connected with a number of significant news outlets to spread the word about credit union efforts in both of these areas, including the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones, Politico, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fox Business News and more. In reports on business lending, our message was clear: Credit unions that offer business lending have the capacity and willingness to make more loans — but, because of the current cap, are turning away business.

On the Interchange front, we made the point loud and clear that if the Interchange rules proposed by the Fed go into effect, the impact on credit unions and their members could well be devastating. On the air: CUNA’s Bill Hampel tells the Fox Business News audience just how consumers would likely pay.

What’s next

We are working to build grassroots on these issues and more in key states, particularly those whose senators demonstrate interest in our overall issues. We are working with Leagues in many of those states to place letters to the editors and op-eds in local papers, and to place ads on radio and television with regard to Interchange.

In the meantime, we continue to press the need for supplemental capital for credit unions, protect the credit union tax exemption, and work to reduce the regulatory burden on credit unions.

Thank you! All of this is only possible because of the commitment and passion of the credit union movement, and bringing it all to GAC. There’s more to be done — but we know credit unions are ready to fight for their interests, protect their members and ensure they have the best option for conducting their financial services.