Much Adieu About Nothing?
Credit unions lost a close ally when Congressman Paul Kanjorski conceded the race to Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta. The congressman earned his stripes with credit unions during the fight to push through H.R. 1151 in the 105th Congress, which many have proclaimed saved the industry, although some at the time questioned whether it did much good at all.
In fact, that legislation is how credit unions got nailed with prompt corrective action, which set the restrictive nonrisk-based requirements for credit union capital they are lobbying to overturn. CUNA CEO Bill Cheney has said that capital reform will be a top priority for the trade group in the 112th Congress. Additionally, H.R. 1151 hit credit unions with the cap on member business lending, which they are currently working to overturn or at least increase. Credit unions are expending considerable political capital on reversing these two items, not to mention time and money.
CURIA was introduced in the closing days of 2003 and over five years gathered many co-sponsors and was introduced in the Senate. But that bill that could have expanded lower-cost financial services to Americans ironically died with the financial crisis. After the Democratic takeover in 2008 (seems like a lifetime ago after Nov. 2, 2010), the strategy has been to break the legislation up into bits and pieces in hopes it would move through more easily.
Here too, Kanjorski stepped up to the plate, sponsoring the legislation to essentially double credit unions' member business lending authority. But here we are heading into a lame duck session of Congress after elections and the MBL legislation will not go anywhere. And again, credit unions have lost one of their closest-if not the closest-Democratic allies in Congress.