Two important pillars of American society return soon: football and Congress. While I’m really looking forward to watching my Michigan Wolverines take the field and beat the Ohio State Buckeyes, I have no hand in their on-field success. When it comes to Congress, however, we all can play a role by getting involved and letting lawmakers know our positions. As the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), I’m proud to work each day to elevate the credit union voice on issues that matter most to you, and the 137 million members you serve. Grassroots advocacy is at the heart of what we do, so below is a quick rundown of what we’ll be working on – and what you should be on the lookout for – for the rest of the year.
Interchange legislation, introduced in the House and Senate, was successfully kept off the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in both chambers, despite efforts by its champions. However, the fight is far from over. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., have vowed to try to attach it to other pieces of legislation and force a vote on the issue this year. Retailers have been very active in lobbying lawmakers to build support for their position, and we need to make sure they hear from credit unions about the harm the bill will cause.
As a reminder, the bill would extend the debit routing provisions of the 2010 Durbin Amendment to credit cards. NAFCU has led the fight against the bill, which would stand to only benefit big-box retailers by padding their bottom lines. With the help of credit unions across the country we will continue to work with lawmakers to prevent any effort to advance this dangerous legislation.
Congress will have their hands full with government funding bills for fiscal year 2024 (FY24) in September. They have to pass 12 bills to fully fund the government. They have until Oct. 1 – the start of FY24 – to fund the government, or we could be facing a government shutdown. Last year’s appropriations battle nearly caused a shutdown, but it was avoided by continuing resolutions – temporary funding bills – and the passage of an “omnibus” package. While there has been talk of some short-term continuing resolutions to keep the government open while lawmakers debate long-term spending packages, there are hurdles to get an agreement to fully fund the government. Additionally, cuts across the board that were agreed to as part of the debt ceiling deal will kick in Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. While we don’t take sides in the spending debate, NAFCU urges lawmakers to prevent a lapse in government funding and ensure continuity of programs used by credit unions and their members.
As part of the annual appropriations proceedings, NAFCU has consistently advocated for proper funding of the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund to ensure credit unions have access to funds they need. We will continue to push for its full funding during the appropriations process this year. The fund’s programs are an invaluable means of providing financial services to Americans who need it most.
NAFCU is also calling on Congress to support the bipartisan, bicameral CDFI Fund Transparency Act. The bill would require the Treasury Secretary or their designee to annually testify about the fund before the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee. We are hopeful that Congress can act on this legislation this fall.
With CDFI Fund still blacking out new applications, credit unions have not been able to access necessary programs to serve their members. This bill has NAFCU’s support as it will promote oversight and enable Congress to ensure the fund is carrying out its intended mission to help communities that need it most.
Member business loan cap
Last month, a pair of NAFCU-supported bills were introduced related to the Member Business Lending (MBL) cap. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced H.R. 4868, the Member Business Loan Expansion Act, and H.R. 4867, the Veterans Member Business Loan Act. The former of these bills will double the amount of a loan exempt from the member business lending cap to $100,000, authorize the NCUA Board to allow loan maturities greater than 15 years, and add credit unions to the “community financial institution” definition in the Federal Home Loan Bank Act.
The Veterans Member Business Loan Act will exempt loans made to veterans from the member business lending cap. The bill also has a bipartisan Senate version.
How to get involved
Credit unions can get involved by visiting NAFCU’s Grassroots Action Center. While NAFCU will continue fighting for you in Washington, the most powerful voice to lawmakers are their constituents and credit unions operating in their district or state. That is where you getting involved in the game makes a difference. Our Grassroots Action Center makes it easy to write to lawmakers on a variety of issues, including ones I mentioned. You can also lobby in-person at NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus – it’s not too late to register and join the fight.
Congress – and football – will certainly keep me busy through the end of the year, and NAFCU’s Government Affairs team won’t stop fighting for the credit union industry in Washington. We’ll continue to promote a regulatory environment that allows credit unions to grow and serve their members.