Banking lobbyists had strong words for the latest credit union industry efforts to combine member business lending legislation with an extension of the Transaction Account Guarantee, legislation at the top of bankers’ wish lists.
In a Nov. 23 article in Politico, Independent Community Bankers of America Executive Vice President Paul Merski said S.2231, which would increase the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, doesn’t have enough votes to pass in the Senate. So, credit unions are “trying to attach it like a barnacle” to the TAG bill, Merski said, which he called non-controversial.
Both Merski and American Bankers Association lobbyist James Ballentine said their organizations would oppose any attempt to combine credit union and bank legislation as suggested by credit union trade associations. Ballentine told Credit Union Times in July that he opposed such a package.
Merski also called a Nov. 19 letter from NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker to senators supporting the bill “obscene” and called credit unions “the skunk at a garden party.”
In response to the article, Becker said he doesn’t know why the bank lobbyists had such strong words in opposition of the package deal, because they have worked with credit unions in the past to pass legislation; a recent example is debit card interchange.
“They don’t hesitate to come to us when they need help,” Becker said.
CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said he wasn’t surprised by the banking lobby’s opposition to a package deal. “I don’t think any of us expect them to support MBL,” he said.
Further, Donovan said, “The Senate doesn’t need the bankers’ blessings. No one asks for their permission to do something for small business.”
Ballentine said in the article the ABA will have members hiking the hill this week in an attempt to counter messaging from credit unions and small business owners that will be visiting legislators as part of a formal CUNA Hike the Hill event.
CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said the credit union MBL Hike the Hill event was planned well in advance of the bank counter offensive. He said the banking industry has a lot of issues before Congress, not just fighting member business lending by credit unions.
“But, if they want to argue about small business, the economy and job growth, that’s their prerogative,” he said.