Full Court Press on Advocacy for Credit Unions Coping with COVID-19

Oregon credit union advocates called their representatives, including  Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2)  to ensure the CARES Act would help their members on Main Street.


No sooner had the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed late last month, Congress turned its attention to planning the fourth round of stimulus legislation. Against that backdrop, the Small Business Administration opened $350 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) last week.

The flurry of activity has the full attention of the Northwest Credit Union Association’s advocacy team and members, as they leave no stone unturned to ensure that credit unions receive all available tools the legislation provides to financial institutions.

The full court press was neatly borne out just before Congress passed the CARES Act. Credit Union CEOs located in Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District reached out to Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR-2).

“Strong relationships built over many years pay off particularly in times of disruption,” said Bill Anderson, President and CEO of Mid Oregon Credit Union in Bend. “Due to the long-standing relationship with Congressman Walden, we were able to talk with him, hear important updates, and share our concerns. Without existing relationships, this couldn’t have happened.”

As his credit union was responding to thousands of member requests for COVID-related financial assistance, Gene Pelham, President and CEO of Medford, Oregon-based Rogue Credit Union, took time to participate in the calls to congress as well.

“As we are consumed by our duty to guide our credit unions through this uncertain time, we must make sure to stand up and advocate for the protection of our movement and the members that trust us to serve them,” Pelham said.

Northwest credit union leaders also sprang into action to answer an NWCUA call-to-action, sending more than 150 messages to their representatives on the eve of the CARES vote. It worked. Credit unions’ asks showed up in the legislation.

“It was great to see the influence of the credit union voice in the CARES Act, and the important role we play communicating with Congress what the needs are in our local communities,” said Samantha Beeler, NWCUA Vice President, Advocacy.

Beeler reports that in addition to connecting with all Northwest congressional representatives and senators, NWCUA is in constant contact with those who serve on key committees, including Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who chairs Senate Banking, and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4), who leads the House Committee on Transportation. Both committees are expected to play an important role in developing phase four of the stimulus package.

At the request of member credit unions, NWCUA is advocating for increased funding for the Community Development Financial Fund and the Credit Union Revolving Loan Fund, Member Business Lending cap relief, additional funds for Small Business Administration support, and other resources to address COVID-19.

Credit unions should share the work they are doing in their communities with their elected representatives. That is a turnkey process through NWCUA’s Grassroots Advocacy Center, where a “Find Politicians” feature allows them to message elected officials and even candidates.

“It is so important that credit unions continue to reach out as they identify roadblocks to member service, sharing details with us so we can advocate for them at every level,” Beeler said.

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Posted in Advocacy News.