This year’s Election Day was the culmination of two years of hard work that enabled the CUNA/league system to lay a strong foundation leading into the 117th Congress.
CUNA, leagues, and credit unions helped elect 365 credit union champions, a 97% success rate. Our priority candidates went 10 for 11, coming out ahead in some very close races.
In Nebraska, we backed Rep. Don Bacon (R) who kept his seat despite his district going for President-elect Joe Biden. In Maine, Rep. Jared Golden (D) won reelection despite his district going for President Trump.
With our support, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, won reelection even though the polls declared her career over. Credit union supporter Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., won by just under 85,000 votes in a race that wasn’t called for days.
Those four represent some of our strongest champions in Congress, and we fought for them in close races.
The new Congress includes more than 30 newly elected members. And while they may be new to Capitol Hill, thanks to the hard work of our leagues, they aren’t new faces to us.
Leagues built these relationships at the state level, and when legislators move onto the national level, we’ve already established that rapport. Now we have someone who knows the credit union difference joining committees, sponsoring legislation, and voting on the floor of Congress.
That’s the work CUNA and leagues have done leading into the 117th Congress, and now we need to turn our message into advocacy success.
The incoming administration’s first priority will be pandemic relief, and we’ve been in front of Congress for months highlighting that credit unions have been financial first responders, moving quickly to serve members in need.
It’s why we launched our Advancing Communities campaign, to show the real communities and actual people whose lives are changed every day by the credit union difference.
Through pandemic, floods, wildfires, and more, credit unions put in the work in 2020—and no one knows that better than our members. Let’s do even more in 2021. It starts with credit unions telling their story, the most important story we’ve ever had to tell.
The 2021 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) is the perfect opportunity for us to engage with the new Congress. Although it will look different, our cutting-edge digital platform for GAC also brings new opportunities for increased engagement.
I’ve heard from countless credit union leaders who participated in a virtual legislator visit for the first time this year and found it a great opportunity to share their message.
Every one of you has a story about helping a member this year, whether replacing a lost paycheck, providing emergency loans for vulnerable populations, or supporting small businesses. You’ve lived the credit union difference and policymakers need to hear about it.
Our members need us in the days ahead. From loan forbearance to alerts on COVID-19-related fraud or assistance rebuilding credit, these efforts will help our members get back on their feet.
The economy will get back on track, and members are counting on us to help them regain their footing as we’ve done so many times before.
Here’s to people helping people in 2021 and beyond.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of Credit Union National Association.