Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici Leads Effort to Raise MBL Cap to Support Small Businesses
The legislation would exempt loans to small businesses that are tied to fallout from the COVID-19 crisis from the MBL cap for the next three years.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has introduced legislation in Congress, H.R. 6550, to raise the Member Business Lending cap to support credit unions’ efforts in helping small businesses. Bonamici, a long-time supporter of credit unions, is one of three chief sponsors of the legislation, which, as of this story’s publication, has acquired 16 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives as sponsors. The bill was introduced in the House April 17.
“Credit unions are a critical part of our financial infrastructure, and small businesses rely on them for meeting their needs. Now is the time to unleash the power of the credit unions in these challenging times.”
— Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon State Representative
The legislation would exempt loans to small businesses that are tied to fallout from the COVID-19 crisis from the MBL cap for the next three years, thus expanding the bandwidth of credit unions to meet the needs of their communities.
Bonamici said she decided now was the time to make a push for the legislation after talking to credit unions and small businesses in her district. Bonamici noted the many frustrating stories she heard from small business owners when they found some other financial institutions were not processing their loans under the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) recently passed by Congress.
“Over and over again I heard people tell me, ‘They’re not processing my loan, and I don’t know how to get through,’” Bonamici said. “Credit unions are part of the solution, and in these times, it is very, very critical,” she added. Bonamici pointed out that the PPP was designed to help small businesses while keeping their employees on the payroll.
However, a lot of large national businesses swooped in and secured a large portion of the funds, leading it to run dry in less than two weeks. She noted that Shake Shack, a publicly traded company with access to the capital markets, received $10 million through the program. After public backlash, the company has decided to return the money so it can be used to help the many truly needy small businesses.
“It is really frustrating when we have so many really small businesses struggling out there,” Bonamici said.
The Congresswoman’s history of supporting credit union initiatives dates back to her first year in Congress. “In fact,” she noted, “my very first bill I pushed in Congress my first session in 2012 was a credit union bill.”
Her empathy for small businesses goes back even further. She said she was hired in high school by a small–business owner who had just a handful of employees. “I really learned to appreciate how difficult it is for these owners. She gave me my first job, and I have never forgotten that.”
The Congresswoman says she is hopeful about moving the bill successfully because of the strong bipartisan support she has been able to engineer in bringing the legislation forward.
“When you have this level of support from both sides of the aisle, it really improves the chances for passage. I am going to do everything I can to move it through,” she said.
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