Political gaming is moving into overtime on Capitol Hill, and credit unions are scrambling to catch up to banks as the clock runs out.
The Senate’s Monday calendar includes a 5:30 p.m. cloture vote to proceed with S. 3637, a bill that would extend the Ttransaction Account Guarantee program.
While the bill includes insurance coverage parity for credit unions, NAFCU’s vice president of legislative affairs, Brad Thaler, said it does not include coverage on Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts for credit unions.
Thaler said while he’s lobbying to add IOLTAs to the TAG bill, NAFCU is also pushing to include an increase to the credit union member business lending cap, as well.
“Given the limited timeframe Congress is working with, considering a TAG extension without IOLTA coverage and a member business lending increase for credit unions and their 95 million members would be unconscionable,” Thaler wrote in a letter Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Thaler said a TAG-MBL package still provides senators an opportunity to create a “win-win package” that helps credit unions, community banks, small business and the economy.
“I think there are a lot of folks who would like to try to find a situation where they’re not having to choose one side or the other between community banks and credit unions, so I think there’s some receptiveness to that,” Thaler said of NAFCU’s strategy.
However, any comeback victory for credit unions is subject to referee Reid, who must determine whether amendments to the bill would be permitted. Thaler said he spoke with Reid’s staff Thursday was told the majority leader had not yet made that decision.
While NAFCU is asking members to contact their senators and urge them to combine credit union and bank issues in S. 3637, CUNA is taking a slightly different approach.
While Vice President of Communications Pat Keefe called amendments to the bill unlikely, he added, “we will work for an amendment, and we are always willing to combine. But, we are encouraging a ‘no’ vote on a standalone TAG coming to the floor, and we will continue to push for a package that includes MBLs with something the banks want -- TAG or fill in the blank."
John McKechnie, partner at the Washington-based lobby firm Total Spectrum, said his message Friday at his meets with Senate staff is that Congress should help all types of smaller financial institutions, both credit unions and banks.
“Congress should not once again pass a bill to help the banking industry without helping credit unions with MBL legislation as well,” he said.