CUNA Seeks Support for CU Charter Enhancement

Forthcoming legislation targets member business lending, supplemental capital.

February 5, 2013

CUNA is seeking congressional support now for credit union charter enhancement legislation, including member business lending [MBL] and supplemental capital bills, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks, News Now reports.

CUNA has discussed the upcoming bills in recent meetings with Senate Banking Committee members, and the bipartisan appeal of both bills has been a consistent point of emphasis during those meetings, says Ryan Donovan, CUNA’s senior vice president of legislative affairs. CUNA is asking senators how the appeal of the bills could be maximized through additional tweaks, he adds.

Both bills met banker opposition last year, but “CUNA anticipates the merits of the bills will be considered, and that those merits will win the day,” Donovan says.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is preparing the MBL legislation and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is readying the supplementary capital bill. Both pieces of legislation will be virtually identical to bills that were introduced last year, Donovan says, although there may be some changes to portions of the supplemental capital bill that address transparency and disclosures.

Last year’s House and Senate MBL bills, H.R. 1418 and S. 509, sought to increase credit unions’ current MBL cap from 12.25% to 27.5% of assets. Doing so would allow credit unions lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses and would create more than 140,000 new jobs within the first year of enactment.

The 2012 supplemental capital legislation (H.R. 3993) would have permitted NCUA to allow credit unions to accept additional forms of capital, provided it doesn’t alter the not for profits’ cooperative ownership structure.

“The point we make when discussing MBL legislation is this: There are credit unions that served business-owning members before and during the financial crisis. Now that the crisis is over, they want to keep working with those members," Donovan says.

Richard Gose, CUNA’s senior vice president of political affairs, notes that a coalition of small business groups continues to support increasing the MBL cap for credit unions.

Banker groups strongly objected to both bills last year, and CUNA pushed back, successfully opposing legislation that would have extended the Transaction Account Guarantee for banks.

Bankers have also harmed their own bills to prevent credit union legislation from moving forward. “Banks may realize that they need to abandon this scorched-earth policy if they want to get their own legislation passed through Congress,” says John Magill, CUNA’s executive vice president of legislative affairs.