Last week we wrapped up our 2023 Congressional Caucus. It was a fantastic event, with hundreds of credit union representatives flocking to Washington, D.C., to get the latest information on the industry and meet with their lawmakers. As the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), I had the opportunity to join many of our members on Capitol Hill as they spoke to lawmakers about their priorities.
Much like last year, interchange was the hottest topic during Congressional Caucus. We had a panel during the event to detail the detrimental impacts legislation to expand interchange price controls to credit cards would have on consumers, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Additionally, in their direct advocacy, our members educated lawmakers about the issue, told their story, and highlighted the credit union difference.
A major part of that difference is the use of noninterest income. Unlike other entities, credit unions need noninterest income to serve their members. Interchange fees, which are part of that equation, fund necessary financial services – including access to affordable credit – and provide a source of funding to help credit unions weather financial storms.
While interchange remains at the forefront, regulatory burden was a major theme, too. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on CFSA v. CFPB on October 3rd. This hasn’t stopped the Bureau’s war on Main Street. As our Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Ann Petros said during Congressional Caucus, the CFPB is avoiding putting rules up for comment. Instead, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra is opting to issue guidance, circulars, and blogs to dictate regulation of the financial services industry.
One of the biggest causes of industry consolidation is the cost – both human and cash – of the regulations being promulgated in D.C., particularly by the CFPB. The bureau has placed a variety of new rules on the desks of credit union compliance officers, who are already struggling to keep up and ensure their institutions are in line with ever-changing regulations.
However, Congressional Caucus always reminds me of one very important fact: we are most powerful as a united voice. While NAFCU’s Government Affairs team works incredibly hard to ensure credit unions have the best chance to grow while remaining safe and sound, we are stronger when you are involved. Your voice is the most powerful in Washington, D.C. When you get involved in advocating on behalf of your members and the industry, it amplifies the credit union message.
It was fantastic to see so many credit union leaders go on Capitol Hill and fight for the industry. That’s what this event is all about. We can bring in the best speakers and deliver a great event, but seeing so many of our members active in the fight is incredible. While we had an amazing event, it’s vital this grassroots effort continues throughout the rest of the year.
There are many issues – including interchange and increasing regulatory burden – that will continue to threaten credit unions. Thank you to all of you who came to the nation’s capital and got involved last week. Your message had a big impact, but the fight isn’t over. Head over to our Grassroots Action Center and get involved with the major issues impacting the industry. In a couple clicks, you can have messages sent to lawmakers. In the meantime, you can rest assured that we’ll continue working hard on your behalf.