WASHINGTON (2/25/14)--Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney challenged 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference attendees to ramp up their grassroots efforts in engaging lawmakers on a list of issues that attracted a record attendance to the credit union movement's annual advocacy gathering.
As the credit union movement nears 100 million in membership--a mark it will most certainly pass later this year--Cheney challenged attendees to engage 10 million of those members in grassroots efforts.
"If we can engage our members, who want to speak up for us, not only will they support us, but they will do more business with us," Cheney said.
During his opening GAC remarks, Cheney cited continued increases in credit union membership and market share as additional reasons for optimism about lawmakers listening more closely to the system's concerns about issues such as the credit union tax status and data security.
Cheney praised credit unions for doing an "absolutely fantastic" job in educating members about the tax exemption, with 1.3 million credit union members contacting the U.S. Congress on the issue. He said CUNA and credit unions--as well as the whole nation--expect to hear from the House Ways and Means Committee this week on the long-awaited tax reform proposal.
"We are confident, as confident as anybody can be in Washington, that our interests will be protected," Cheney said. "Bankers have financial resources; we have people resources, and it's making a difference.'
He also noted the turnout of 450 credit union advocates for a special GAC breakout session on the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based capital proposal. Cheney said credit unions understand a risk-based system is needed; however, the system must be implemented as part of an overall restructuring of credit union capital requirements.
Under the current NCUA risk-based capital plan, credit unions would be limited in their ability provide loans and invest in credit union service organizations.
The CUNA CEO encouraged credit union to use modeling tools on the CUNA website to "drill down a couple of levels" on the effects of the proposal, and to register concerns during the NCUA's 90-day comment period.
"We've got to give NCUA the tools they need to address this problem, and the proposal that's on the table today is simply not acceptable," Cheney said.
Cheney also said members of Congress are willing to listen to credit union concerns on data security. "We have been very successful in raising the profile of this issue," he said, citing a survey that CUNA membership survey which found the Target data security breach has cost credit unions $30.6 million.