WASHINGTON (11/28/12)--Kicking off the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) National Hike the Hill Tuesday, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) thanked credit union and small business supporters for coming to Washington, D.C. to urge lawmakers to vote for legislation to increase the credit union member business lending (MBL) limit.
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney launches the Nov. 27-28 National Hike the Hill event during which more than 500 credit union and small business representatives will blanket Capitol Hill to urge legislators to approve U.S. House and Senate bills that would increase the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap. CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan listens to Cheney's left. (CUNA Photo)
Udall, lead sponsor of the Senate's MBL bill, said he appreciated the work being done to back his efforts to move forward his bicameral, bipartisan legislation that will "continue to help our economy grow and create jobs."
"Let's get this bill done!," Udall exclaimed.
Five hundred credit union and small business representatives, from nearly every state in the union, will work to do just that as they push for greater credit union member business lending authority in meetings with their respective legislators today.
Head U.S. House MBL cosponsor Ed Royce (R-Calif.) urged the credit union and small business advocates to remind members of Congress during their visits that "getting America back to work is not a credit union versus bank issue, it is not a Republican versus Democrat issue. It is an opportunity we have right now to get credit in the hands of small business and create 140,000 jobs out there, and do it without borrowing money from overseas.
"Thanks to you, we are closer than we have ever been. We'll all work together to see this thing through," Royce added.
In other brief remarks, credit union champion Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said there is "nothing more important" than lending to small businesses that are in need of capital. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) praised credit unions for their excellent track record. "You invest in communities. You make things happen," Tonko said.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), who's first act as a member of congress was signing on to support the House MBL legislation, called the bill "a great way to help small businesses," and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said credit unions, in working for the MBL cap increase, are "pressing the concerns of everyday people in America."
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), called the credit union MBL cap increase "a private sector solution that will create jobs," and Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) noted that when banks weren't willing to lend, credit unions were.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) were also among the lawmakers that attended the launch of the Hike the Hill event meant to increase support for U.S. House and Senate bills that would increase the MBL cap from the current 12.25%-of-assets lending limit to 27.5% of assets.
Senate MBL legislation (S. 2231) could be considered any day during the lame duck session, and CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said the vote could come in any number of formats: as a stand-alone bill, as part of a package with other legislation--or as part of a larger, must-pass piece of legislation.
Cheney stressed that how the MBL legislation gets passed does not matter. The point, he said, is making sure it passes.
"This is the best chance that we have had in the past ten years to get this bill passed, once and for all. We've won the policy argument, we've shown our commitment, we've built a strong coalition between credit unions and small businesses. Only the banks oppose us--and we know why. Let's get past the banks and their tired arguments. Let's move forward with our conviction that we can and will win on this bill--for our members, for our communities--and for country. It's the right thing to do," he said.
If enacted, the MBL bills would help credit unions inject $13 billion in new funds into the economy. This money, which would be made available at no expense to taxpayers, would in turn help small businesses create over 140,000 new jobs in the first year after enactment.
The National Hike the Hill caps a strong year of support for the pro-business MBL cap increase legislation, which began with hill hikes before and during the 2012 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference and continued in Washington and home districts throughout the year.
Small business owners from across the country also joined CUNA and credit unions for a spring Capitol Hill small business hike. Business owners and advocates later joined CUNA and credit unions to talk MBLs with members of Congress and their staff members at a September Capitol Hill event, and CUNA staff also held hundreds of meetings with congressional staff during the recently completed lame duck session.