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News Now

Washington
Take on banks' bills when needed: CUNA strategy
WASHINGTON (1/4/12)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) John Magill said that CUNA is prepared to take on the banks whenever  that is what is required to move credit union legislative priorities.

"It's not in the credit union DNA to have a knee-jerk reaction against everything the banks try to do.  But if that is what it takes to bring the banks to the table to work together on financial institutions issues, then that's what we'll do," declared Magill, who heads CUNA's legislative affairs department.

CUNA unveiled its 2013 legislative priorities Wednesday, citing its " four-pillar" agenda:  preserving the credit union tax status; reducing regulatory burden; engaging in housing finance reform; and advancing credit union charter enhancements, such as increased member business lending authority and supplemental capital. (See News Now Jan. 3:  A closer look: CUNA sets four-pillar legislative agenda)

Magill explained that CUNA is prepared to toughen its approach to credit union advocacy in 2013, if needed.

CUNA tried to "bring the banks to the table" through much of 2012 to get them to ease their opposition to CUNA-backed legislation that would increase the credit union member business lending cap (H.R. 1418/S. 2231). 

"Despite the boost an increased cap would give the economy, the banks continued their knee-jerk opposition to these credit union bills," Magill noted.  CUNA responded, he said, and "made a loud statement" when, late last year, it aggressively opposed legislation that would have extended the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG).

A bill to extend TAG was strongly favored by major bank trade associations. TAG granted unlimited deposit insurance coverage for noninterest bearing transaction accounts during the financial crisis.  The program expired Dec. 31.

Credit unions were covered under the TAG program, but CUNA found its members were not in favor of an extension.  Magill said CUNA scrutinized the extension bill, but could find no good public policy reason to extend it. The group actively opposed the extension and urged credit unions to do the same, a switch from CUNA's longstanding approach of remaining neutral on banks' legislation.

The TAG bill failed to gain the 60 votes needed in the U.S.  Senate to move it forward for final consideration. The final vote count was 42 to 50.

The credit union win and CUNA's key role in it was quickly noted as one of the top 10 lobbying victories of 2012 by D.C.-based political publication The Hill.


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