CUNA pushed back against banker requests for an increased military base lease exemption in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Thursday in a letter to House Armed Services Committee leadership.
Credit unions are eligible for an exemption that allows for the waiving of certain fees and land lease costs for credit unions on military installations. The Senate Armed Forces Committee passed their version of the NDAA Thursday with a provision requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to consider for-profit banks the same as credit unions.
“Historically, defense credit unions have been asked to remain on base to alleviate the high transactional costs coupled with poor service by other financial institutions. It is no secret, being member-owned and not-for-profit is how defense credit unions keep interest rates low and responsive to member needs (e.g., deployment), which improves the financial readiness of our military,” the letter reads. “Other financial institutions simply cannot match the credit union difference.”
The letter adds that banks already have the ability to obtain leases at a nominal cost under the Military Leasing Act if they can demonstrate to DoD how they would use their lease to serve and provide value, but have not exercised this authority.
“Defense credit unions do not fear competition from banks, especially on base, as there can be an important role for both institutions to play. But credit unions simply put our members first—ahead of profit. If banks want to be treated like credit unions, they need to start acting like them,” the letter reads. “Equal treatment needs to focus on service, structure and ethos, not increasing the bank’s profit sustainability. Our servicemembers deserve more.”
The letter was co-signed by the Defense Credit Union Council and the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions.