Credit unions received some discouraging news on Capitol Hill last week when the draft version of a Senate jobs creation bill didn't include a provision to raise the cap on member business lending.
It's the second setback on the issue during a two-week period. President Obama failed to mention the issue in the portion of his State of the Union address that focused on job creation, and his proposal to make money available to community banks to increase business lending does not include credit unions. Lobbyists for CUNA and NAFCU hope the MBL provisions will be added later.
"We knew we weren't likely to get in the first bill because the focus has been on taxes. Our chances are as good as they've ever been, but we have a lot of work to do," said CUNA Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan.
NAFCU Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Dan Berger said while he was disappointed about the exclusion, the trade group will "continue to reach out to the leadership, and the bill discussions are in the early stages."
Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate that would raise the cap on member business loans to 25% of assets from their current level of 12.25%. The increase wasn't included in the jobs-creation bill that the House passed in December.
The Senate had hoped to pass the jobs bill by the end of last week, but that didn't happen because of the severe snowstorm that shut down most of Washington. Lawmakers are likely to resume consideration next week when they return from their Presidents' Day recess.
CUNA has said raising the cap will be one of the talking points at its upcoming Governmental Affairs Conference when they meet with lawmakers.
The Senate bill would extend unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for the uninsured. It would also give businesses that hire unemployed workers an exemption from the Social Security payroll tax. It would also extend some of the business lending programs created in last year's stimulus bill until the end of the 2010.
Credit union lobbyists are also closely watching the negotiations among members of the Senate Banking Committee over the bill to revamp the way financial services are regulated.