NWCUA Advocacy Team Takes to the Hill for Final MBL Push as Senate Considers TAG, MBL Pairing
November 29, 2012
November 29, 2012
“TAG! You’re it!”
That familiar phrase may best describe the latest political maneuvering on Capitol Hill, as Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) representatives scurry from one congressional office to another in hopes of finally securing a vote on S. 2231, the credit union member business lending (MBL) bill.
TAG refers in this case to the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program that community bankers have been pushing Congress to extend before its expiration next month. The unlikely marriage of credit unions and community bankers may indeed be the outcome after months of persistent advocacy efforts, said Jennifer Wagner, vice president of legislative advocacy for the NWCUA.
“Sen. (Harry) Reid introduced a TAG bill Monday night and is looking to expedite it to the Senate floor for a vote,” Wagner said. “It looks like he is putting into motion a scenario where our MBL bill and the TAG Bill (S. 3637) may be merged together to help ensure passage of our priority legislation.”
Wagner is orchestrating Capitol Hill visits this week for a group of 15 NWCUA members representing Oregon and Washington credit unions. She noted that the NWCUA has excellent geographical representation for the visits, which has helped earn firm commitments of support from congressional delegation members across the Northwest. The schedule Wagner has put together for NWCUA representatives is so fast-paced it makes the University of Oregon football team’s offense look like it is working in slow motion by comparison.
“We don’t have much down time,” Wagner said. “Time is of the essence for us right now, and we need to touch all of our bases in the next couple of days to impress upon our congressional members that the MBL vote needs to take place now.”
Tuesday found the NWCUA group beginning the day with a briefing on the busy agenda and the assignments for each representative. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President and CEO Bill Cheney joined NWCUA members for lunch and provided the latest update on the legislative maneuvering that was taking place on Capitol Hill.
It was off to member offices after that including a visit with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
“We had an excellent visit with her, and she remains firmly committed to getting our legislation up for a vote,” Wagner said.
Tuesday also saw the NWCUA team meet with Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.). On Wednesday, it was warp speed, with visits with Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), as well as Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).
“Our CEOs have been doing a great job in communicating the importance of acting now on our legislation,” Wagner said. “They know there are but a few days left in this Congress do get this done and that we have been waiting patiently to see the promise of a vote come to fruition. That time is now.”
Bankers are not pleased with the prospect of having TAG legislation tied to the credit union’s MBL bill, but Wagner notes the strategic move goes beyond the much-anticipated vote in the Senate.
“There is concern that even if we pass the Senate that we could have difficulty in the House of Representatives,” Wagner said. “The thinking is that moving both pieces of legislation concurrently may help firm the votes for a package that might not otherwise materialize.”
The NWCUA’s legislative efforts have been given air coverage at home, as the NWCUA Monday launched a pro-MBL media campaign in strategic online locations and in major newspapers across Oregon and Washington.
“It has been a real team effort,” Wagner said, “and I am very encouraged this will pay off in the next few days.”
Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team: