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CU reps meet with Hill leaders
Click for slide show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke with credit union representatives in her office yesterday during credit union visits to Capitol Hill. The group told Pelosi about the new Senate version of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, which is expected to be identical to the House version (H.R. 1537). The California delegation later held a reception at Credit Union House for House CURIA co-sponsor Ed Royce (R-Calif.). From left: Pelosi; Lynn Athens, president/CEO, Spectrum FCU, San Francisco; Annie Oliveto, board member, United Health CU, Burlingame; California Credit Union League President/CEO Bill Cheney; CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica; Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president/CEO, Travis CU, Vacavill; and Dykstra Diana, president/CEO, San Francisco Fire CU. (Photo provided by CUNA)
WASHINGTON (3/6/08)--Credit union representatives from all over the country amassed to hike Capitol Hill this week as a part of the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., which attracted 4,500 attendees. At least 18 state leagues had scheduled visits with their state legislators. Among state leagues represented during the hill visits was the California and Nevada Credit Union League, which met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Credit union representatives from the league encouraged Reid and Ensign to support a version of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, which Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) announced Wednesday she would introduce in the Senate. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will co-sponsor. Referencing CURIA, Ensign noted the difficulty of passing new legislation in the upcoming year to due the tight political landscape of a presidential election year, but noted that he’d look at the bill. “It’s not impossible,” he said, though he cautioned that bankers are “still powerful on Capitol Hill.”
Click for slide show U.S. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada), left, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) speak with Nevada credit union representatives Wednesday in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room of the U.S. Capitol. (Photo provided by CUNA)
Both also confirmed their concerns with the current economy, including the housing crisis. “I know credit unions are feeling the credit crunch,” Reid said, recognizing that credit unions have helped many people. He also noted the high rate of foreclosures in California. Bill Cheney, president of the California and Nevada league, emphasized to Reid and Ensign that while credit unions didn’t create the housing crisis, they’d like to be part of the solution. Representatives from the Wisconsin Credit Union League and Wisconsin credit unions also met with Elissa Levin, the legislative aide of Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). Baldwin is one of 145 CURIA supporters in the House and a long-term credit union supporter. Paul Kundert, president/CEO of UW CU, Madison, asked that Baldwin encourage more of her colleagues to sign on to CURIA. He also made his case in support of a provision to create a risk-based capital system for credit unions and another to allow more member business lending. He said the capital reform plan would free up resources that credit unions could use to better serve their communities. He also noted that credit unions, with a 12.25% of assets cap, are very restricted in the number and amount of small business loans they can offer members, which also can restrict credit union service to their communities. CURIA proposed to increase the limit to 20% of assets. “Our ability to provide more loans is a way to kick start the economy,” added Brett Thompson, president of the Wisconsin CU League.
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