When the Capitol Hill-focused publication POLITICO published an interview with CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan last month discussing a narrowly discussed section in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last month, offices across Congress took notice.
The section in question, Section 2821 of the Senate-passed version of the NDAA, would expand to certain banks an exception that credit unions currently have granting rent-free access to military installations in exchange for their continued mission and structure as not-for-profit financial cooperatives.
“As soon as that article was published, our advocacy team was getting calls from offices in nearly every state wanting to know what this issue was about,” said CUNA Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer Eli Joseph. “It speaks to just how meaningful the bond is between and credit union and their elected representatives, and it really underscores just how important it is for Leagues and individual credit unions to make calls and host meetings with those officials to reinforce the credit union difference and advocate on these important issues.”
During the August district work period, CUNA provided resources to help relay how equating banks to credit unions attacks the very core of credit unions’ not-for-profit structure, and their mission to serve tier members rather than wall street investors. CUNA and Leagues also wrote to House and Senate Armed Services Committee members during that time.
After the recess CUNA issued an action alert in September to activate credit unions and members to contact elected officials to ensure the provision isn’t in the final bill that goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.
“There is still a lot of urgency behind this action alert,” said Joseph. “Those conversations we had with offices opened the door, but we need credit unions, whether operating on bases or elsewhere, to help their lawmaker understand why this provision is such a threat to every credit union in America.”
CUNA/League advocacy helped ensure no such provision appears in the House-passed version of the bill, and credit unions have engaged with lawmakers in both chambers to keep the provision from the final bill.
Though select lawmakers are currently marrying the House and Senate versions of the NDAA through a conference committee, credit union advocates are encouraged to contact their members of Congress on this important issue.