While President Obama won a resounding victory in his re-election quest, credit union trade groups celebrated their successes in the congressional races and turned their attention to the Congress’s lame duck session.
Democrats not only retained control of the Senate, they picked up three seats. In the House, Republican retained their majority but lost eight seats.
After racking up nearly perfect records of throwing campaign support behind congressional winners, both CUNA and NAFCU will have some grateful ears on Capitol Hill willing to listen to the pitches.
Katie Marisic, NAFCU director of political affairs, said the group was victorious in 94% of its races. And, the money went to the right places, with 97% of the money NAFCU spent on congressional races going to victors, she said. “We supported over 100 winning campaigns in 2012,” she added.
CUNA had similar results, according to Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins. In the Senate, CUNA supported 27 races, winning 26. In the House, the CUNA PAC was involved in 361 races and won 336. That means only 15 losses out of 376 races, for a 96% winning record.
In what was perhaps the most closely watched race, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, with 54% of the vote, defeated the incumbent Republican, Sen. Scott Brown, to become Massachusetts new freshman senator. In her victory speech Warren thanked a list of campaign supporters that included credit unions.
“Credit unions … yes … love my credit unions,” Warren said.
Dan Egan, president of the Massachusetts Credit Union League, said Warren was extremely gracious in mentioning credit union support and said the league is looking forward to the opportunity to work with her. The league endorsed Warren, drawing criticism from some in the industry thanks to her association with the CFPB.
Former Representative Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), a known credit union supporter who was vocal in his advocacy of small institutions during the debate of the Dodd-Frank Act, will return to Congress, having defeated the woman who knocked him out of office in 2010, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.).
Longtime credit union friend Brad Sherman survived a nasty race against fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman in California’s 30th district. The two were forced to run against each other due to redistricting. The state’s top two primary system advances to the general election the two candidates that receive the most primary votes, regardless of party.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) was the winner in a close race with challenger Denny Rehberg, a Republican congressman. Tester, who along with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) attempted to delay the Federal Reserve’s ability to cap interchange rates, was supported by partisan communications from credit unions to their members in Big Sky Country. Tracie Kenyon, president/CEO of the Montana Credit Union Network, said she’s hopeful credit unions helped put Tester over the top.
What does this mean for credit unions? The so-called status quo election results and lack of shift in party power will probably spur a robust lame duck session as congressional Republicans accept two more years of Democratic dominance. Industry trade associations and lobbyists agree that credit union issues like member business lending and redundant ATM disclosure requirements could gain some traction.
Consultant and lobbyist Dan Mica said he thinks S. 2231, which would raise the member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, has a good chance of advancing through the Senate during the session, most likely attached to another piece of legislation. Americans on both sides of the political fence are tired of congressional obstructionist strategies, and former congressman Mica said elected officials are too.