Donovan: CUs on military bases are at the core of mission to serve

September 27, 2019

CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan discussed the latest in credit union advocacy in a recent interview with CUBroadcast. Donovan touched on the recent rules finalized at last week’s NCUA meeting before giving a larger picture of CUNA’s advocacy focus, particularly the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

A chief topic of conversation was CUNA’s recent action alert to ensure a provision allowing banks rent-free access to military installations is not in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020.

Section 2821 of the Senate-passed version of the NDAA would expand to certain banks an exception that credit unions currently have granting rent-free access to military installations. CUNA/League advocacy helped ensure no such provision appears in the House-passed version of the bill.

The bill is currently being considered in conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions before being signed into law.

“Banks are trying to get rent-free access to military base, essentially saying credit unions are able to access bases rent-free. But what they ignore is why credit unions have, under certain circumstances, this access to federal facilities. This isn’t something that just came up in the last several years, it’s a provision that has its origins in the early versions of the Federal Credit Union Act,” Donovan said. “Congress has given credit unions a job to promote thrift and provide access to credit for provident purposes. Congresses in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, all the way up the present, have encouraged credit unions to serve federal employees. What better way to serve federal employees than having facilities located where government employees work?

“Do you really want Wells Fargo and Bank of America on military bases, and do you want them there rent-free? Credit unions are serving a purpose, they’re there to serve the service men and women and all federal government employees on these facilities and they’re doing so on the behest of Congress and we don’t think that should change,” he added.

Donovan also clarified CUNA’s stance on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) debt collection proposals, including why a certain footnote in the proposal is concerning.

“We could come out and say, this rule is for third party debt collectors and doesn’t concern us, but it’s really important for credit unions to pay attention to this process as the CFPB moves to finalize the rule because a number of credit unions retain third party debt collectors,” he said. “There was a footnote in the proposal that references UDAAP [unfair deceptive or abusive acts or practices] that has the potential to convey some standards to first-party collectors, particularly under a different CFPB director.”

Donovan added that CUNA and Leagues will continue to engage with the CFPB on the proposal between now and when it is finalized.