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Washington
CU strength in one voice says CUNA chairman
WASHINGTON (3/2/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Board Chairman Harriet May told a CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference audience that credit union strength on Capitol Hill comes from presenting a unified message--speaking with one voice--to federal lawmakers on credit union issues. When a divided message comes through, May said, it makes it easy for lawmakers to say, "I'd like to help you but I'm not hearing a consensus." May said that getting legislation through this "divided" Congress will be challenge enough, and that challenge must be tackled with a unified effort and a unified message. May, president/CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas, even offered a simple
Click to view larger image CUNA Board Chairman Harriet May urged the credit union movement to "speak with one voice" when delivering the credit union message to Capitol Hill. She said that while a united front may be easier to present on issues like interchange fee regulations, the same unity is needed to get legislation through "this divided Congress" on such issues as increased member business lending or supplemental capital. (CUNA Photo)
message--what she called Credit Unions 101--that GAC participants can deliver to their legislators while they are in Washington. "Credit unions are the best way for consumers to conduct their financial business,” May said. “It's as simple as that. And Congress, we and our 92 million members want to be sure it stays that way.” As evidence of what a unified voice can accomplish, May cited the effect of credit unions’ united opposition on the proposed interchange rule. “Key legislators are having buyers’ remorse,” May said. “Influential regulatory officials have cast serious doubts on whether the two-tier system will work. We’re not there yet, but we will continue to press this issue from every possible angle. It’s a challenge, but one made easier by the movement’s unity of purpose and message.” May pointed out how as a national trade association, CUNA has the capacity to work nationwide with state leagues to build consensus and shape the messages that the credit union movement provides to Washington. As an example, she cited the letter CUNA sent to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calf.), the new chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, listing rules and regulations that have a negative effect on job growth and efficiency in the credit union system. She acknowledged there are issues, such as business lending and supplemental capital, that don’t touch every credit union, as does the interchange proposal. “I respectfully urge you to take a broader view,” May said. “Those who do need these authorities, it will make them stronger. And that, in turn, makes the movement stronger.” The effect of victories on each of these issues--interchange, small business lending, supplemental capital--as well as others, such as the regulatory burden credit unions face, will build political capital for the future, she said. “We are all in this movement together, for all the right reasons,” May said. “Of many, we are one. One set of shared values. One unified message. One unique industry. The one financial institution that the people of this country can really count on. "Let’s be sure Congress knows it.”


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