CU Lobbyists Racing To Catch A Place On Stimulus Bill
WASHINGTON -- Credit union lobbyists are working hard to see if they can attach different parts of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 1537) to the so-far fast-moving economic stimulus package.
"We have been working with Congressional leaders on how credit unions could be part of different strategies to keep the country working," explained Brad Thaler, NAFCU's director of legislative affairs. He admitted that the possibility that parts of CURIA could be added to the economic stimulus package might seem remote, but that budget-conscious legislators seemed particularly attracted to things they could do that would not carry any cost.
NAFCU's staff is not alone in the effort. CUNA lobbyists have also been busy and drafted a letter to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to press the case for lifting of the member business lending cap in the economic stimulus bill. In its Jan. 23 letter, CUNA argued for both raising the member business lending cap from its current 12.25% of total assets to 20%, as well as increasing the minimum threshold for a qualifying member business loan from $50,000 to $100,000.
"This proposal is targeted toward middle and lower income individuals," CUNA wrote. "In 2001, the Department of Treasury estimates that 45% of credit union member business loans went to households with incomes less than $50,000.
According to Ryan Donovan, CUNA vice president of legislative affairs, the trade group continued to discuss inclusion with congressional leaders last week. The House-approved version of an economic stimulus package, which contains only six provisions, does not address credit unions. Donovan said CUNA is now shifting its focus to the Senate with the hope that legislators there will have a broader stimulus package though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is asking the Senate action not threaten the delicate balance negotiated between the House and the Bush Administration. The bill passed the House 385-35.
Congress received thousands of requests for inclusions in the House's economic stimulus package last week, Donovan said. He, too, noted that the member business lending proposal could be the exception among those because it does not have a revenue component attached.