WASHINGTON (8/15/11)--Debit interchange fee cap legislation, and the debate surrounding it, immediately became his predominant issue as Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney succeeded former CUNA chief Dan Mica last year. Cheney recently reflected on his first year in charge of CUNA, which officially began on July 5, 2010. Stepping up to deal with the interchange issue presented quite a challenge, but Cheney told CUNA’s Credit Union NewsWatch that CUNA’s early work with legislators, and additional work after financial regulatory reform legislation was passed in July 2010, substantially improved the final Fed rule from what was first offered. “Our work had an influence on the Senate and we improved the situation for credit unions… and our job now is to make sure the two-tiered system is effective and make sure that we hold senators who voted against us on the delay, but assured us that the two-tiered system would work, accountable,” Cheney said. Other focuses of the past year were member business lending legislation, reducing credit unions’ regulatory burden, and further building credit unions’ grassroots muscle. Cheney traveled the country to hear directly from CUNA members on these and other issues. A major surprise was the amount of work CUNA has done this past year with the U.S. Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Cheney said that this groundwork will pay dividends going forward. “There’s a lot the Treasury and CFPB can do to help credit unions,” he added. CUNA has developed a close working relationship with the CFPB. CFPB seems to understand that eliminating and amending some regulations, rather than simply creating new regulations, is key to reducing the regulatory burden, Cheney said. Regulatory burden has been a key complaint of credit unions coast to coast. Cheney noted that the level of concern grows stronger in areas where economic troubles have hit hardest. His numerous meetings with credit unions, which are set to continue following the interview, have helped the CUNA CEO focus on what is important: improving the operating environment for credit unions. While the 2,500-mile move from California to Washington is a big change, Cheney said that he likes the change and the city of Washington. For more of Cheney’s interview, see the latest issue of CUNA’s Credit Union NewsWatch(member's only).