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CUs blanket Hill with message on key issues
WASHINGTON (3/4/11)—A week of credit union advocacy continued on Wednesday as thousands of credit union representatives from across the country flooded the halls of Congress as part of the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) 2011 Governmental Affairs Conference.
Click for slide showRep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), right, goes into great depth during a discussion on member business lending, interchange fees, and other issues facing credit unions. Perlmutter met with representatives of the Colorado Credit Union League and various state credit unions during their Wednesday Capitol Hill hike. (CUNA Photo)
CUNA primed the credit union reps ahead of their Capitol Hill hikes, identifying credit unions’ tax exempt status, interchange fee regulations, member business lending (MBL), supplemental capital, and the overall credit union difference as key concepts to be communicated to Congress. Representatives from New York state credit unions and the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) during their visits asked Rep. Peter King (R) to consider their position on the major issues confronting credit unions today: interchange, supplemental capital, member business lending and maintaining credit union non-tax status. CUANY President/CEO William Mellin during that meeting described the interchange proposal as “well intended legislation that’s going to hurt American consumers.” Supplemental capital and extended MBL authority would allow credit unions to offer more services to their members at a time when credit and job creation are critical to growing the U.S. economy, Mellin said, adding that the MBL legislation is “similar to an economic stimulus package that has zero cost to the American taxpayer.” CUNA has estimated that increasing the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets would inject $10 billion into the U.S. economy and create 100,000 jobs. The New York group also thanked co-sponsor Charles Schumer (D) for his work on behalf on credit unions during a late Wednesday meeting. A Colorado contingent also stressed the credit union position on interchange, supplemental capital, MBL, and tax exemption during their meetings with legislators. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) listened to the group’s concerns on supplemental capital, MBL and the credit union tax exemption, and said that his top near-term credit union legislative priority was interchange. “If we can get a delay for some time to study this issue and take into account the needs of consumers, the safety and soundness of financial institutions and the margins of the merchants, I think we can find a solution,” Perlmutter said. Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO Dave Adams said that his group’s Wednesday visits were extremely productive, and particularly noted his visits with Reps. Gary Peters (D) and Dave Camp (R). Camp remains “a good friend of credit unions,” and Peters during their meeting reaffirmed that the debit interchange issue will have “unintended consequences” and needs to be fixed. Peters “understands the on-the-street effect” of interchange, “and he is helping us with it,” Adams added. Michigan legislators have consistently backed credit union causes in Washington, Adams noted. Credit union groups from Alaska, North Carolina, Hawaii, California and Nevada, Virginia, Wisconsin and Maine were among the many groups that offered access to their representatives through legislative receptions. The New Jersey Credit Union League added that the GAC-related hikes demonstrate to members of Congress just how committed credit unions are to playing an active role in the public policy process.


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