The competition for credit unions is out in force this week on Capitol Hill and its agenda is clear.
“Stopping the credit union power grab,” is a headline on the news release put out by the Independent Community Bankers of America as the trade group gathers its members Wednesday and Thursday for its annual Washington Policy Summit.
“Main Street community bankers are eager to press their issues with their members of Congress,” said Jeff Gerhart, chairman of the ICBA and of Bank of Newman Grove, Neb.
The member business lending bills will be a particular target as nearly a thousand ICBA members go forth and lobby. They’ll be working against S 2231 and HR 1418, bills that would raise the member business lending cap from 12.25% to 27.5% of assets at credit unions.
“The current cap is not arbitrary and is intended to keep credit unions focused on their original tax-exempt mission of lending to consumers of modest means,” the ICBA said in a statement Wednesday.
“Expanding credit union commercial lending powers would be unfair and harmful to community banks and the communities they serve and costly to taxpayers because it would reduce the taxable lending activities of community banks, and it would further divert credit unions from their mission,” it said.
Other priorities are supporting a five-year extension of the FDIC’s TAG insurance program, the Communities First Act to provide regulatory relief and curb harsh exams, and a new farm bill that would maintain crop insurance funding and stop the farm credit system from expanding into non-farm credit.
“Community bankers do the bulk of the nation’s small business lending and are key to supporting a robust economic recovery. Having ICBA member community bankers in Washington to ensure the community bank perspective is heard loud and clear is critical to Main Street communities,” Gerhart said.