WASHINGTON (1/5/08)—Just prior to an important Democratic policy meeting in the U.S. House, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) sent letters to key lawmakers encouraging them to consider elimination of the cap on member business lending (MBL) by credit unions. The letters were sent to Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn), who chair the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. That panel is scheduled to conduct a hearing on economic stimulus legislation Wednesday. In its letter CUNA noted that removing the 12.25% of assets cap on MBL authority for credit unions could help offset a “troubling trend” of declining commercial credit availability at banks. “Banks are pulling back at a time when the small business owner needs them the most,” wrote CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica, who cited a Federal Reserve System survey that showed 75% of senior loan officers at America’s banks indicated that their institution was making less business credit available. Noting that “The engine of our economy is the American small business owner. “ Mica told the lawmakers that the country’s credit unions continue to lend to their business-owning members, even in these difficult times. “The credit union system remains generally healthy and credit unions are not only willing, but able, to continue lending to their members,” the CUNA leader noted. He added that if the cap on MBLs was lifted, credit unions could lend up to an additional $10 billion to the nation's businesses in the first 12 months of being granted the authority. This is an economic stimulus measure that does not cost the taxpayers a dime, and does not increase the size of government, Mica wrote. CUNA took a similar opportunity to present the credit union system’s case for greater member business lending authority to President-elect Barack Obama last month. On Dec. 18, Obama remarked during a press conference that problems in the U.S. economy will continue "if small and large businesses cannot get access to enough credit." CUNA’s Mica fired off a letter to the incoming President that day explaining how credit unions could help.