WASHINGTON (3/26/12)--A full Senate vote on credit union member business lending legislation could now come at any time after a new version of the legislation was introduced late last week.
The bill, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, has a new number, S. 2231, but is identical to Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.) S. 509. The new bill has been introduced under Rule 14 of Senate rules, and, as a result, has bypassed the committee process and can be called for a full vote immediately.
It is scheduled to be placed on the Senate calendar this week, but a vote could also be delayed until after the April recess. The Senate is in session this week, then off for two weeks, and back in session the week of April 16.
Increasing the credit union member business lending cap from 12.25% to 27.5% of assets would inject $3 billion in new funds into the economy, creating as many as 140,000 new jobs in the first year after enactment, according to Credit Union National Association (CUNA) estimates.
Udall last week started an online petition to garner support for his bill, and noted the critical role that small businesses play in job creation and growing the American economy in a statement on his official website. "For the past 15 years, small businesses have created two-thirds of all new jobs, but the recession has cut off a lot of their access to capital. As it is, many small-business owners have been forced to resort to credit cards with comparatively high interest rates in order to invest in equipment to grow their businesses or to hire more people. By simply lifting this burdensome federal regulation, credit unions will be in a position to provide small businesses with the small, low-interest loans they need to create new jobs," Udall said.
The Colorado senator spoke at last week's CUNA 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference, telling credit unions to fight for what they believe in on Capitol Hill and help members of the U.S. Congress convince their fellow members to support the legislation. He also encouraged the assembled credit union representatives to ask their senators to cosponsor his legislation, 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.