While an evenly divided Congress may cause some whiplash due to competing Republican and Democratic priorities, the CUNA-League advocacy team is poised for continued success in 2023, says Jason Stverak, CUNA’s deputy chief advocacy officer.
That’s because both parties embrace credit unions and how they improve constituents’ financial well-being. “Every member can tell the story of how their credit union improves their financial well-being on a daily basis,” he says.
Stverak highlights advocacy accomplishments and surprises from 2022, details priorities for 2023, and explains what success will look like at year’s end.
Jason Stverak: It’s a team effort. That’s the secret sauce. We have one of the best advocacy teams in Washington, D.C. That includes the incredible people at our Leagues and credit unions who are doing fantastic work on behalf of their members and communities.
A: I’m happy we were able to pass and get signed into law the member expulsion bill, which will give credit unions additional authority to expel members for specific reasons.
And after being told we wouldn’t get it out of the House, the House of Representatives passed the largest charter modernization in field of membership in over a decade. While it’s stalled in the Senate, we’ve moved that discussion forward.
That’s important, as advocacy isn’t limited by the two years Congress is in session. It’s a continual, 365 days a year, year after year education of current members, new members, old staff, and new staff on issues they should support.
‘We have a simple motto: Trust credit unions to serve their members.’
Much of our efforts were geared toward stamping out bad ideas. CUNA has been at the forefront in leading the fight against the Marshall-Durbin interchange bill and has led efforts to protect the entire financial services industry on the overdraft protection issue.
We have a simple motto: Trust credit unions to serve their members. As member-owned institutions, they know what’s best for members, and they’ve done a fantastic job of serving members for many years.
A: Not much of a surprise, but the partisan gridlock and inability of Republicans and Democrats to work together on bipartisan and widely supported issues and pieces of legislation. It’s like they can’t agree the sky is blue some days.
One of the big surprises is that some credit union priorities advanced far without even minor changes. There’s the Credit Union Board Modernization Act, which House Financial Services Committee
Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and ranking member Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., signed off on. It’s not easy getting those two to agree on an issue. But this bill unanimously passed committee and out of the House with 109 co-sponsors.
It’s gratifying to see the acceptance of credit unions’ importance. A few years ago, policymakers would look for money at the end of the year and we’d have to defend our tax status. But that’s not even on the table anymore. It’s not a fight they want to have.
Now we’re at the table looking at and crafting legislation. That’s an incredible advocacy win that will pay dividends into the future. Credit unions are an equal partner at the table because of the hard work we did in 2022.
NEXT: Advocacy priorities