Lessons from H.R. 1151: Always advocate for what we love
Historic legislation drove home the impact of grassroots advocacy on Capitol Hill.
When Richard Gose joined CUNA, the fight to pass H.R.1151, the Credit Union Membership Access Act, was well underway.
“I got hired in July after the House passage and before the Senate passage,” says Gose, CUNA’s Chief Political Officer. “I was there for the rally on Capitol Hill, which took place before my first days on the job. It started a lot of momentum for our political involvement. Our PAC [political action committee] had never been over $1 million until that time. It was the catalyst for a lot of what we have today.”
Many lessons from that time still ring true today, he says, namely the need to have a steady, constant grassroots presence on Capitol Hill. “Lobbyists are essential, but it’s the regular credit union folks telling their stories that has the most impact on elected officials.
“Not that there hadn’t been grassroots advocacy prior to this, but it wasn’t as organized,” Gose continues. “Just look at Credit Union House, where there’s a central gathering place for credit unions that’s owned and run by credit unions.”
If H.R. 1151 hadn’t passed, members might have been kicked out of their credit unions, and membership would have been curtailed dramatically.
“We realize things can happen to us through the legislative process, and we need to be prepared and to evolve to protect what we love—our credit unions,” Gose says. “I’m glad to see more people and younger folks get involved. That’s important. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend we’ll never be threatened through the legislative process.”