NW Credit Union Leaders Descend on D.C.

Eight leaders from Northwest credit unions flew to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with their representatives in Congress and with members of the NCUA Board in an advocacy blitz known as Hike the Hill.

“Nothing beats face-to-face conversations for building relationships with the people who represent us in Washington,” said Jennifer Wagner, senior vice president of advocacy for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). “Hike the Hill is a chance for credit union leaders to share their biggest legislative and regulatory concerns with the lawmakers and regulators who will make key decisions in the coming months.”

Over the course of two intensive days the Northwest delegation, which included Wagner, NWCUA CEO Troy Stang, and NWCUA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Mark Minickiello, met with all four senators from Washington and Oregon, eight representatives from the two states, and two NCUA board members, including new board member Mark McWatters.

McWatters shared his background, which includes sitting on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Congressional Oversight Panel and serving as counsel to Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). 

McWatters told the delegation that he values credit unions’ perspectives and will need their input in order to do his job well. He pointed out that he has never run a credit union, and said he would not tell credit unions how to do their jobs. He said that he would work towards regulations that make sense.  McWatters also said that 2,300 comment letters speak loudly and that he firmly believes the agency should re-propose the risk based capital rule.

The Northwest delegation shared their ideas and concerns about the NCUA’s proposed risk-based capital (RBC) rule, the general regulatory burden on credit unions, interest rate risk, exam policies and more.

On the Hill, the delegation focused on three main topics: continued education on the regulatory burden impacting credit unions and their members, including an update on the risk-based capital rule; concerns about the recent Home Depot data breach, including a request for congressional action to raise data security standards for the largest merchants to prevent these large breaches and the need for a conversation regarding liability when a breach occurs; and the 100-million-member milestone, which was officially celebrated in a forum sponsored by The Hill newspaper, at which Washington Congressman Denny Heck spoke.

“We were able to clearly lay out our ideas and concerns for our representatives and regulators,” said Wagner. “It was a successful chance to enrich the understanding and relationship between them and the credit unions of Oregon and Washington.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, Events, Federal, NWCUA.