Credit Unions Weigh in on Community Bank Bill
Contact Lawmakers in MBL Call to Action
Members of Congress heard from credit union leaders about the need for regulatory relief – for community banks AND credit unions – during a hearing on H.R. 1697, the Communities First Act. The bill focuses on community bank regulatory relief. It is sponsored by Missouri U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-District 9), whose family owns a community bank in St. Elizabeth.
In front of the House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions on November 16, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney encouraged a balanced approached to regulatory relief to help both credit unions and banks. H.R. 1418, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, would lift the credit union member business lending cap to 27.5% of total assets. Cheney urged Congress to add provisions of H.R. 1418 to provisions in the bankers’ bill for legislation that would “be embraced by all who serve businesses on Main Street.” The move is supported by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-California), who is the main sponsor of H.R. 1418.
Cheney was one of two credit union witnesses testifying at the bank bill hearing. The hearing also included testimony from the president/CEO of Legends Bank in Linn, Missouri, which is located in Luetkemeyer’s district.
There are four Missouri members of Congress who are cosponsors to the bank bill, but aren’t cosponsors to credit unions’ MBL legislation. These include: U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-District 4); Emanuel Cleaver (D-District 5); Sam Graves (R-District 6) and Luetkemeyer. Missouri Credit Union Association Vice President of Federal Legislative affairs Amy McLard visited the offices of U.S. Reps. Hartzler, Cleaver and Graves to share information before attending the hearing, where U.S. Rep. Luetkemeyer introduced his bill and asked questions.
Credit unions’ appearance at the hearing provided an opportunity to point out inconsistencies in bankers’ arguments against credit unions. While banks cite credit unions’ tax status as a reason to oppose member business lending, H.R. 1697 would increase banks’ Subchapter S tax status. Banks consistently oppose any legislation that would reduce credit unions’ regulatory burden, yet are asking for substantial regulatory changes.
“When banks oppose credit union legislation, their shareholders may win, but consumers and small businesses lose,” said Cheney.
MBL Call to Action
The American Bankers Association (ABA) is spreading misinformation about the credit union member business lending effort. An ABA publication distributed on Capitol Hill includes baseless and factually incorrect information. Missouri credit union leaders are urged to again contact their members of Congress – in both the House and the Senate – to help set the story straight and make sure lawmakers understand the need for raising the credit union member business lending cap from 12.25% to 27.5% of total assets.
Even if your credit union does not participate in member business lending, the Missouri Credit Union Association encourages communication to let members of Congress know that your credit union members and board should determine what services they can access – not the banks.
Visit the Grassroots Action Center to contact Missouri’s U.S. House and Senate members. The featured action item is for House members. Immediately below it is the notice for Senators. You will need to submit a letter for each.
Three U.S. Representatives are currently cosponsoring H.R. 1418, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act: Russ Carnahan (D-District 3), William “Lacy” Clay (D-District 1) and Todd Akin (R-District 2). The Grassroots Action Center will enable you to send a thank you to these members for their support.
The Missouri Credit Union Association Advocacy Team can work with your credit union to craft articles highlighting the member business lending issue for distribution to your staff and members. For more information, email Amy McLard or call (314) 542.1370 or (314) 922.7300.