Credit union lobbyists agree that the way Congress approaches the post-election lame duck session will largely depend upon Tuesday’s outcomes.
NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said if Mitt Romney wins the presidency, House Republicans will put legislation on the backburner.
The same stall would likely happen if either the House or the Senate majority changes party, he said.
“There would be an effort to get some quick fixes,” Thaler said of legislative issues like the fiscal cliff. And, he added, a regime change wouldn’t automatically mean member business lending is dead for this year.
However, Thaler said, the overall strategy would be one of waiting until January to tackle anything new.
Conversely, Thaler said, should the election produce little or no change, legislators may buckle down and do some tough work, “because when they come back in January, everyone will still hold the same cards.”
So, where does that leave member business lending legislation? Credit unions received a glimmer of hope Monday when the National Journal published a to-do list that reportedly came from the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that included the proposal to raise the credit union member business cap to 27.5% of assets.
However, S. 2231 would have to compete with some high-profile legislative priorities, including the fiscal cliff, farm bill, defense authorization, cyber security and one from the banking lobby’s wish list, the extension of unlimited federal deposit insurance for transactional accounts.
CUNA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs John Magill said the number of bills that must be passed during the lame duck session increases the likelihood that member business lending could pass attached to another piece of legislation.
“We have not gone to sleep on this, we’ve been on the Hill, selling the message, and I think have some good opportunities to put MBL on one of those bills,” Magill said.
Another bill that may see some action during the lame duck session is S. 3394, legislation that would eliminate the ATM placard disclosure requirement and stop frivolous lawsuits against banks and credit unions when the signs are missing or have been vandalized.
The bill has been combined with a measure that would legally protect confidential information provided to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but the legislation has stalled thanks to a hold put on the bill by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is pushing for a complete repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act.
John McKechnie, a partner at Washington-based consulting firm Total Spectrum, said industry lobbyists continue to work behind the scenes to build support for passage of the bill during the lame duck session, and said the DeMint controversy could be resolved so the combined measure could move forward.
Magill said the ATM bill has a 50/50 shot of being passed this year. DeMint’s repeal “won’t happen”, he said, and there have been “helpful signs” S. 3394 could move forward.
Thaler said in addition to MBL and the ATM bill, NAFCU will also continue to promote its tax study during the lame duck.
The expected tax debate could set up the parameters for next year’s tax reform debate, he said, so NAFCU lobbyists will continue to be “vigilant and vocal” about credit union tax exemption.