Noting that unlike banks, credit unions haven’t sought government help to deal with the effects of the financial crisis, NAFCU today urged lawmakers to bring a measure to raise the cap on member business loans to a vote.
“Not-for-profit credit unions do not need taxpayer dollars to lend to small businesses; rather they only need the removal of the arbitrary and artificial government cap (12.25% of total assets) on member business lending to help our economy. NAFCU believes that the strength of the economy and labor force is strongly influenced by the health and well-being of the small business community. Credit unions themselves are small businesses and in these tough economic times are in a solid position to understand and help fellow small businesses with access to capital issues,’’ NAFCU Executive Vice President Dan Berger wrote to House and Senate members.
Berger’s letter comes in the wake of a report in today’s Wall Street Journal that some banks used loans from the government aimed at encouraging business lending to repay their TARP loans. He urged lawmakers to “investigate this shell-game perpetrated by the banks.’’ The issue of raising the cap on member business loans will be on the front burner next Wednesday when a House subcommittee holds a hearing on legislation that would raise the cap on member business loans from 12.25% of assets to as much as 27.5% of assets.
The House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit has scheduled a hearing for 2:00 p.m. next Wednesday. The witnesses haven’t been announced.
The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the subject in June. Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Carolyn McCarthy have sponsored the legislation and so far it has 79 cosponsors. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has sponsored companion legislation in the Senate and it has 21 cosponsors. Both bills require that credit unions must be well-capitalized, be at or above 80% of the current cap, have five or more years of member business lending experience and be able to demonstrate sound underwriting and servicing. If a credit union’s net worth ratio falls below the well-capitalized requirement (currently 7%), it would have to stop making new business loans.