Members of Congress from both parties addressed the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference from the main stage Wednesday morning, thanking credit unions for the work they do and sharing their legislative priorities for the rest of 2022.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, thanked credit unions for their push for financial freedom. Emmer cited many credit union concerns with the proposed expanded Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements.
Emmer led efforts to secure opposition from more than 200 Republican members of the House, and read credit union concerns during a town hall on the subject hosted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
He introduced a bill to update the member expulsion process and pledged more for regulatory relief.
“In spite of all those heroic efforts you’ve done on behalf of your membership across this country, the unfortunate reality is you’re still dealing with very burdensome regulations,” he said, adding, “we have to get America back working again, and a big part of this solution is right in this room.”
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said credit unions are where the “rubber meets the road” in helping communities, especially the ones in her district. She also said they were a valuable source of information and funding as the pandemic-related shutdowns began.
“Thanks to credit unions stepping up, small businesses were able to find relief when the big banks wouldn’t help,” she said. “They were able to talk to a live person when they just wanted to understand what a (Paycheck Protection Program) loan even was.
"That’s why in successive relief packages we reserved small business relief for CDFIs, including many credit unions that we could count on to help the people that needed help the most,” she added.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, shared his continued support of reforming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) leadership, and his legislation to prevent the Small Business Administration (SBA) from becoming a direct lender.
“Credit unions did a great job making sure the money got to the right people for the right reason,” he said. “I’m going to have a bill to take away the direct lending authority for the SBA, because you are the ones that know how to make loans, you know your customers, and will make sure they money gets into the right hands.”
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, expressed his continuing push in support of his bill, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act, which would provide a safe harbor for credit unions serving legal cannabis businesses.
“The bill was brought to me by credit unions who said we need a financial safe harbor so we can provide financial services to the cannabis industry,” he said, pledging to “keep adding it to whatever I can until we pass the darn thing.”
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets, said he was glad to be back to an in-person CUNA GAC, as he’s spoken at nearly every one of them since first being elected to Congress.
Sherman said he supports raising the credit union member business lending cap, adjusting Bank Secrecy Act thresholds that haven’t been updated since 1970, and further regulatory relief.
“I often talk to the head of the CFPB, and the last one and the one before that, and remind them that we put Dodd-Frank section 1022 there for a reason, to say they have the authority—I believe the responsibility—when they come up with regulation to have a simplified version or an exemption for smaller financial institutions,” he said. “One size does not fit all.”
►Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage. Get live updates on Twitter via @CUNA_News, @cumagazine, @cuna, and #CUNAGAC. Follow the conference on Facebook and Instagram and visit cuna.org/gac for more information.