This is Part 4 of a 4-part series introducing the Campaign for Common-Sense Regulation, a CUNA/league effort to marshal the full resources of the credit union industry around the fight to erase excessive regulations on credit unions. Mark your calendars for the webinar on how to get involved on Tue., Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. (ET).
Each year in late February or early March, every congressional office on Capitol Hill sees a credit union advocate walk through its doors, placing credit unions and their priorities squarely on the minds of each of the 535 members of Congress whose policy decisions literally shape the direction of this country.
This only happens because of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
“There are many reasons to set aside time and make the commitment to come to GAC,” said Jim Nussle, CUNA president/CEO. “But if you care about the strength of the industry, if you care about the vitality of your credit union and of the financial health of your members, the primary reason to attend is to meet with your members of Congress and tell them your story. It’s the most effective advocacy tool we have.”
Nearly 5,000 credit union professionals will again descend upon Capitol Hill for GAC 2017, set for Feb. 26-March 2. The conference features the year’s largest selection of educational sessions, covering issues from technology, to compliance solutions, to growth strategies; not to mention the largest and most cutting-edge vendor exhibit hall in the industry.
GAC also features four keynote speakers, this year including Colin Powell, former U.S. secretary of state, and Bob Schieffer, longtime political journalist, who will offer unmatched insight into the state of the United States.
But just as important, according to Rod Staatz, CUNA board chair and president/CEO of SECU of Maryland, Linthicum, Md., the event enables credit unions from across the country to come together, march up the steps of Capitol Hill, and tell their elected officials in one unified voice why it’s critical to support the priorities of credit unions.
“It’s very exciting to walk down the halls of one of the congressional office buildings and see my credit union friends heading into the offices of their elected officials, knowing they’re about to impress upon them the same points I’m about to share with my congress members,” Staatz said. “There’s a real credit union vibe to Capitol Hill that week. It’s really stirring.”
But GAC isn’t the only opportunity throughout the year for credit unions to meet with lawmakers--a central piece of the CUNA/league system’s Campaign for Common-Sense Regulation.
Leagues offer Hike the Hill events where credit unions can fly to D.C., consult with CUNA staff, take advantage of Credit Union House, and meet with lawmakers to advocate for credit union priorities alongside their peers.
CUNA and the Leagues also encourage and provide resources to help credit unions invite elected officials to their branches back home when on recess, with the first opportunities coming up the weeks of Jan. 16 and Feb. 20.
During these site visits, credit unions have the ability to not only tell, but show their members of Congress the importance of the services they provide to the community, and how regulations make it more difficult to do so.
“When I served in Congress, visiting with my constituents was one of the most important jobs I had,” said Nussle. “It’s how I learned about what mattered to the people I was elected to represent. And it helped clarify for me the issues they were asking me to support once I returned to Washington. Trust me, elected officials are looking for opportunities to meet with you. Take advantage.”
To learn about the initial steps credit unions can take to get involved in the Campaign for Common-Sense Regulation, tune in to the campaign-launch webinar, Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. (ET).