WASHINGTON (3/21/12)--Members of the Senate and the U.S. House both touted their support for member business lending legislation (MBL), but told attendees of the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) that lawmakers will need credit unions' help to get the legislation passed.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), sponsor of MBL bill S. 509, told the GAC crowd that he is committed to his bill, and plans to introduce it as a potential amendment to any legislation that moves on the U.S. Senate floor this year.
Udall calls his bill a common sense way to help small businesses. It has bipartisan support and Udall considered seeking to have it attached as an amendment to a pending small business bill, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. However, he was not able to because of procedural issues. As a result, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has begun the necessary steps to bring S. 509 to the Senate floor for a vote as a stand-alone bill.
A vote could on the MBL increase could come in the weeks ahead, Udall said, and he noted that S. 509 could not have come this far without the advocacy efforts of credit unions. The bill has bipartisan support.
Udall said he would find a way to get a vote on his bill, which would increase the MBL cap from 12.25% of assets to 27.5% of assets, as soon as possible.
Credit unions need to fight for what they believe in on Capitol Hill, Udall said, to help members of the U.S. Congress convince their fellow members to support the legislation.
He encouraged the assembled credit union representatives to ask their senators to cosponsor S. 509, or, at the very least, to agree to vote for the bill. "If there are credit unions with capacity to lend, and small businesses that need loans, why not allow our economy to grow?" he asked.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who is a cosponsor of the House version of MBL legislation (H.R. 1418) said in her own remarks before the GAC that she could "do the groundwork" and tell her colleagues that it is good legislation, but said she also needs the help of credit union supporters to help get votes.
She encouraged credit union advocates that will meet with their elected representatives as part of the GAC effort to "believe in what [they] are doing" and tell their story to members of Congress.
McCarthy noted that she has heard from many small businesses in her home district in Long Island, N.Y., that were rejected by banks but have now received small business loans from credit unions.
"Your job, because you believe in it, I believe in it, has really helped so many people and small businesses," she said. McCarthy added that she has also heard from bankers in her district that oppose credit union interests, and has told them that now is the time "to let the credit unions serve the communities to the capacity they can, and help our small businesses and get the economy going. That's what's important."