CUNA Executive Vice President of Governmental Affairs John Magill said S. 3637, a new bill that would extend the Transactional Account Guarantee for both banks and credit unions, isn’t a legislative defeat for credit unions anxious to see a vote on member business lending legislation.
While Magill stressed he doesn’t speak for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who introduced the bill last night, Magill did say he thinks Reid wants to keep his options open.
“He’s introduced a bill that could perhaps lead to marrying the two together,” Magill said of S. 3637 and S.2231, a bill that would raise the member business lending cap for credit unions.
However, as a standalone bill, S. 3637 would require 60 votes to pass in the Senate, just as S. 2231 would. Magill said he doesn’t think the TAG extension has that kind of support.
“They aren’t close to 60 votes unless they were to be part of a larger package,” he said.
Independent Community Bankers of America’s Paul Merski, executive vice president for congressional relations, wouldn’t say how many votes he thinks the ICBA has locked up in support of TAG, but instead also characterized the bill as an option.
“TAG extension could still move in many different fashions, as an amendment, or as a stand-alone bill,” he said. “The good news about this is that it shows support at the highest levels in the Senate. The language is out there and that’s how we view it.”
Credit union lobbyist John McKechnie said a package deal may be the best chance both sides have to get their bills passed.
"The object here is not simply to get the bill through the Senate; it's to get the bill through the House, to the president's desk and signed into law. That means we need to make the legislation as politically palatable as possible, and one way to do that is to balance it with something that the banking industry needs, like TAG,” he said.
Merski said that credit unions should be pleased with S. 3637, because it not only includes an NCUA TAG extension, but also the ability for credit unions to offer interest on lawyer's trust accounts, also known as IOLTAs.
NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker wrote in a July 9 letter to House Financial Services Committee leaders that many IOLTAs exceed the standard $250,000 share insurance limit.
Magill said his Capitol Hill contacts are telling him CUNA’s Hike the Hill event this week in support of S. 2231 is great timing, and the biggest hurdle to passing the bill is “other must-pass legislation” like the fiscal cliff, tax extensions, the debt ceiling, and filibuster rules.
More than 500 credit union and small business representatives are visiting members of Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday in support of expanding credit union business lending authority.
Tuesday evening, CUNA will host a reception and rally in the Senate Russell Office Building that will be attended by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), the primary sponsor of S. 2231, as well as U.S. Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio).