Credit Unions Busy Preparing for CUNA GAC

More than 200 credit union professionals from Oregon and Washington will travel to Washington, D.C., next week for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), and the timing could not be better.

Two bills of specific importance to credit unions were introduced in Congress last week—one that would more than double the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap, and another that would give credit unions access to supplemental capital.

Add to that the ongoing process of keeping the credit union tax exemption from being affected by the current push for tax reform and the perpetually concerning regulatory burden, and suddenly the GAC delegates have a lot on their plate.

“The timing of this trip is critical,” said Jennifer Wagner, vice president of legislative advocacy for the Northwest Credit Union Association. “Credit unions send a strong visual message when we visit the Hill in such large numbers. It’s an important complement to the work we do with our smaller group visits during Hike the Hill and in-district visits.”

The GAC officially kicks off on Sunday and extends through Thursday, Feb. 28. According to CUNA, the conference’s theme, “Powerful Cause, Positive Effect,” reflects the credit union commitment to the 95 million Americans who rely on credit unions every day.

On a local level, Valley Credit Union President and CEO Jean Wheat-Palm did her part to set the stage for the CUNA GAC by discussing that same commitment to members in an op-ed piece published Sunday in the Statesman Journal.

Responding to a guest opinion published Feb. 13 by a board member from a bank in the Salem, Ore., area that questioned the benefits for Oregonians of the credit union tax exemption, Wheat-Palm explained the history behind the exemption and the value of cooperative finance that was so brightly illuminated during the Great Recession.

“When the banking crisis of 2008 sent our country into deep recession, banks came hat in hand to taxpayers for tens of billions of dollars in bailout money,” Wheat-Palm wrote. “Credit unions, on the other hand, responded by increasing lending to small businesses to help them survive the crisis even as banks were turning off the spigot.”

And for those banks who feel the tax status gives credit unions an unfair advantage, Wheat-Palm offered a tidy solution.

“If banks (which still control 93 percent of all assets nationally) believe the state credit union charter gives credit unions an advantage over for-profit banks,” she stated, “they can solve their concerns by converting their bank into a not-for-profit credit union.”


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, CUNA, Federal, NWCUA.