SAN ANTONIO -- Despite setbacks in the quest to get an increase in the cap on member business loans, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said prospects are "not dead yet."
He told attendees of the NASCUS State System Summit that their efforts on this matter are "very active," and that it is possible Congress could pass something during a post-election lame duck session or next year.
He said much of the progress has been behind the scenes but warned that it is "far from a done deal."
In a subsequent interview, Cheney said that CUNA hopes to persuade lawmakers to attach the MBL bill-which would raise the cap from 12.25% of assets to 27.5% of assets-to one of the spending bills that lawmakers must pass before the end of the year. However, the banking lobby has fought that legislation at every turn.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate and Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) is leading the effort in the House.
Cheney also promised to push Congress hard to allow credit unions to accept supplemental capital when the issue comes up next year.
He said they would stress that any capital will improve the safety and soundness of the credit union system. Such capital will "augment retained earnings and provide extra protection for the NCUSIF."
But any new rules allowing supplemental capital should not change the current structure of one member, one vote and investors must be aware of the risks, he emphasized.
Cheney also said he and his colleagues have been meeting with Treasury Department officials and regulators to persuade them not to add excessively to the regulatory burden of credit unions.
"I've told them that we understand you are trying to improve financial products and increase disclosures. But I have told them that first they need to look at peeling back existing regulations," he said.
He noted that his association has been pushing for greater clarity and leeway in the enforcement of the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
Cheney also said he has encouraged administration officials to consider modifying certain regulations based on the size of the financial institution and the nature of the institution's relationship with consumers.
Cheney, who assumed the top spot at CUNA in July after serving as president/CEO of the California-Nevada Credit Union League, also discussed his priorities for improving his organization.
He promised to expand and improve the grass-roots support for credit unions when lobbying Congress and to focus more on education and training.