Reid Files Cloture on Bankers’ TAG Bill as Behind-the-Scenes MBL Advocacy Continues

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture this morning on the motion to proceed to S. 3637, a bill that has been seen as a possible companion for credit union member business lending (MBL) legislation that would extend the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program for banks.

Under the cloture rule (Rule XXII), the Senate can put time constraints around consideration of a bill. Often used to overcome a filibuster, the rule allows the Senate to limit consideration to 30 additional hours by a three-fifths vote of the full Senate.

Essentially, Reid’s decision to file cloture means the Senate is now preparing to vote on the TAG bill.

According to Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Vice President of Legislative Advocacy Jennifer Wagner, details are still evolving as to when the vote will take place and whether the bill will be open to amendments, which will dictate the response from credit unions.

“As a stand-alone bill, we oppose TAG, and we hope that defeating this measure will highlight the need for this legislation to be packaged with our MBL bill,” Wagner said.

S. 2231 would more than double the cap on credit union business lending and has been strongly opposed by the banking industry. The TAG bill, meanwhile, would extend unlimited deposit insurance coverage granted during the financial crisis for noninterest bearing transaction accounts—coverage that is currently set to revert back to $250,000 at year’s end without congressional action. Discussed since July as a potential MBL companion, Reid’s move to bring the TAG bill for a vote is the latest unexpected turn on the MBL bill’s unpredictable path.

“The status of our MBL bill on Capitol Hill remains very fluid,” said NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang. “Let me say loud and clear, ‘the ball remains in play,’ and we are working in conjunction with CUNA and others on this ‘inside’ game.”

Even before Reid filed cloture, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) had issued a call to action encouraging credit unions and leagues to urge their senators to oppose the TAG bill, part of a delicate balancing act that has had credit unions simultaneously working to produce a TAG-MBL package while also working to block any efforts to move the TAG bill without MBLs attached.

Last week, a small group of credit union leaders from the Northwest traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of an MBL-focused national Hike the Hill, and they came away with firm commitments of support from all four Northwest senators.

“We are continuing to work behind the scenes with our Senators to support passage of MBLs as part of a package,” Stang said. “While the clock is winding down and we all feel a great sense of urgency, we aren’t giving up. Congress has the ability to act extremely quickly when it wants to, and there is much left to be done before they go home.”

While credit unions will work to oppose passage of TAG as a stand-alone bill, Stang emphasized that the true target for credit unions is unchanged.

“Our ultimate goal remains to pass our MBL legislation into law,” Stang said.

 

 

Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Vice President of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Pam Leavitt, Policy Advisor

Posted in Advocacy News, Around the NW.