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Bipartisan backing for MBL increase grows
WASHINGTON (11/23/11)--Legislation that would increase the member business lending (MBL) cap for credit unions continues to have broad bipartisan appeal, with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), two legislators on distant ends of the ideological spectrum, signing on as cosponsors in recent weeks.

Waters became one of 104 cosponsors of H.R. 1418, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act of 2011, when she signed on to support the bill on Nov. 18. The legislator in a House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions hearing on community banking said she is "very much involved" in the MBL issue, and added that she wants to work with Republicans "to do something" for credit unions and other small institutions. Waters also urged credit unions and community banks to work out their differences during the hearing.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney testified during the hearing, suggesting that legislators add MBL cap increase language to a separate community bank regulatory relief measure, creating a bill that could "be embraced by all who serve businesses on Main Street." Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who is a main sponsor of H.R. 1418, also supported combining portions of the two bills. (See related Nov. 17 story: Cheney urges less CU reg burden at bank hearing)

Paul recently became the 21st cosponsor of Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.) own MBL legislation, S. 509. Paul, who was supported by the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) and the Kentucky Credit Union League, and also touted the support of over 700,000 Kentucky credit union members on his website, during his 2010 Senate campaign, is halfway through his first Congress.

Both the House and Senate bills would increase the current 12.25% of assets MBL cap to 27.5% of a credit union's total assets. CUNA has estimated that increasing the MBL cap would have a number of beneficial effects on the ailing economy, including infusing $13 billion in new credit for small businesses and adding 140,000 new jobs within the first year of enactment--all at no cost to the American taxpayer.

CUNA continues to fight to increase these cosponsor totals, and move MBL legislation on to President Barack Obama's desk, and 23,000 separate contacts have been made since late spring as credit union advocates have reached out to members of the House and Senate, as well as the Obama administration, to seek their support for the MBL legislation.

Credit union supporters have also reached out to members of Congress and their Capitol Hill staffers during CUNA's 2011 Hike the Hill efforts, with the New Jersey Credit Union League, the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas, and the New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island leagues making the most recent trips to Washington. A total of 32 Hike the Hill visits have been made this year.
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