Northwest Credit Union Advocates Share Member Service Priorities with Senate Banking Chair Crapo

Flexibility introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic could continue to help credit unions members permanently, advocates say.

9/22/2020

Even with a very busy schedule in Washington, D.C., last week, U.S. Senator Mike Crapo took time on Sept. 16 for a meeting with the Northwest’s credit union advocacy army. More than 200 advocates dialed in for the call. Sen. Crapo plays a key role on the financial services landscape as Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Several times during the meeting, Sen. Crapo thanked credit unions for their services to Main Street, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Credit unions helped deliver economic relief to people, billions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans, and other emergency services,” said Crapo. “There were more than 30,000 PPP loans in Idaho alone, totaling nearly $3 billion, and that was a critical lifeline for businesses and their employees.”

Sen. Crapo said he supports extending the Paycheck Protection Program and efforts to streamline the forgiveness process. Credit unions are advocating for a simplified forgiveness process for loans of  $150,000 and under.

Kent Oram, President and CEO of Idaho Central Credit Union, pointed out that most PPP loans made by credit unions went to the very small businesses for which the program was intended with loan amounts averaging well under $150,000. The forgiveness program, Oram noted, is “relatively onerous” yet the loans saved thousands upon thousands of jobs in every state.

Northwest advocates also messaged capital standards, noting the influx of deposits resulting from stimulus relief to consumers and cautious consumer behavior, could reduce credit unions’ net worth ratios. The Senator was very supportive of the ask for temporary reduction in well-and-adequately capitalized standards.

As the November election looms, partisan politics have delayed many legislative packages. But Sen. Crapo assured credit union advocates that there are many areas in which elected officials on both sides of the aisle are finding common ground. One of the examples he cited includes legislation proposed by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) to provide Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with capital, liquidity, and operational capacity to expand credit to underserved, minority, and historically disadvantaged communities.

Such legislation would help consumers and keep them from turning to predatory lenders, noted Trisha Baker, President and CEO of Lewiston, Idaho-based Lewis Clark Credit Union.

Sen. Crapo also voiced support for expanding remote notarization post the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that working with regulators and lawmakers toward permanent efficiencies would serve employees and consumers now and into the future.

“I really appreciate my relationships with you, with the credit union family. You are great advocates and you’re doing a wonderful job for people.”
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) 

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