GAC: Aguilar has CU roots and won't forget

March 10, 2015

WASHINGTON (3/11/15)--As a former vice president at Arrowhead CU, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) heeds the advice of his grandmother when it comes to his legislative work with credit unions: "Don't forget who you are and where you came from," she always told him.

Click to view larger imageRep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) is a former senior vice president at Arrowhead CU, San Bernardino, Calif.

Aguilar, who was elected to his House seat in 2014, left no question that credit unions helped shape his political perspective. "I can tell you, as a newly elected member of Congress, I will never forget my work in the credit union industry; the professionals, executives and members who helped shape me being here today," he said.

"You folks mean so much to me and this industry has given me so many opportunities," he told the credit union leaders attending the Tuesday general session of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference.

Aguilar was supported by CUNA and the California Credit Union League from his first primary in June through November's general election. 

Among the credit union-friendly pieces of legislation Aguilar has supported are H.R. 1188, a bill that would raise the cap on credit union member business lending (MBL) to 27.5% of assets; H.R. 1133, a bill that would exempt business loans to veterans from credit unions' statutory MBL cap; and H.R. 989, a reintroduced bill that would allow credit unions to raise other forms of capital.

Throughout his remarks, Aguilar noted how the lessons he learned as a credit union executive will guide his decision-making as a legislator. One such lesson is the importance of community.

He said he tries to advocate for his constituents in much the same way as credit unions advocate for their members. "If you make decisions with the community in mind, everything else will fall into place," he said. "You don't have to tell a credit union to invest in community. You do it because it's the right thing to do."

Another common thread between his California constituents and credit unions is a need for regulatory relief. "There is such a thing as too much regulation," he said. "Credit unions weren't part of the financial mess that gave way to our economic downturn, but you've all felt the effects of the over-corrections. I believe that we can balance safety and soundness with a regulatory structure that is responsible, lean and flexible enough to protect our members." 

Also from his own experience, Aguilar stressed the importance of advocacy both within the credit union system and with legislators. "You need to take what you heard to today, and know that there are hundreds of credit union professionals who can learn from your thoughts and experiences," he said. "Let them know that the future of the credit union industry lies in our ability to tell our story."