One of the biggest events of the past year for credit unions had nothing to do with member business lending or debit interchange. It was the hiring of Bill Cheney as CUNA president/CEO, said CUNA Chairman Harriet May, during Monday’s Annual General Meeting.
“The board said in July when choosing Bill that he was the right man at the right time for CUNA,” she said. “That has proven to be the case. He’s met with key policy makers, he has been out in front of the media, and he has crisscrossed the country to hear about your priorities and concerns.”
Cheney cited several of CUNA’s successes—and noted a couple of areas “where we fell short.”
On the plus side, CUNA:
• Helped credit unions maintain an independent regulator and keep the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund separate from banks’ insurance fund. “This will serve credit unions well in the long-term,” he said.
• Worked with congressional leaders to lessen the impact of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And although credit unions must comply with the agency’s regulations, they don’t have to pay for its operation.
• Helped elect 14 members of Congress—11 in the House and three in the Senate.
• Won the battle with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over unrelated business income tax. “You don’t often beat the IRS, but credit unions did,” Cheney noted.
• Navigated the corporate credit union crisis; and
• Communicated the credit union difference regularly through major media outlets.
Unfortunately, legislation expanding credit unions’ member business lending authority didn’t make it through Congress. “We ran out of time at the end of the last session,” Cheney said. “But we’ll start right before the finish line at the next session.”
And credit unions still face the possibility of lost debit interchange income. “We’re spreading a simple message to Congress: Stop this,” Cheney said. “It’s a train wreck for consumers.”