Photos Day Three: Onsite at GAC
WASHINGTON – Speakers who represented influential members of Congress for credit unions closed out the final day of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference here Wednesday morning. Most speakers were either sponsors of credit union legislation or leaders of financial committees.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) is chairwoman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. She could gain even more clout on Capitol Hill later this year if she is successful in her run for the U.S. Senate, attempting to fill the seat left vacant by longtime Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who announced his retirement in late 2012.
Capito said she's still concerned about the effect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's qualified mortgage rule will have on banks and credit unions. She said the House Financial Services Committee will continue to keep a close eye on the rule.
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Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has sponsored legislation to raise the member business lending cap for a few years, without success. However, he told his GAC audience Wednesday morning he will not give up on passing the bill.
Udall also said credit union executives and volunteers should be proud of their business model, because it's an important contributor to local economic strength.
The Colorado senator also spoke out against party division in Washington, saying Democrats and Republicans need to step back, remove their red and blue jerseys, and start playing together on Team USA.
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Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) said he's proud to stand with credit unions.
"The four most terrifying words in Washington are where do you stand?" he told his Wednesday morning GAC audience.
However, Braley said he's always stood in support of credit unions. To illustrate his position, he said back in 2005 when he first ran for Congress, he reported his campaign donations would be sent to his credit union account, not a bank. He even showed the audience a copy of the statement.
"That was a deliberate decision based on my values and beliefs," he said.
Like Capito, Braley will attempt to move up to the Senate later this year. He is running for the seat left by the retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
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Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) said he's seen first hand how credit unions provide capital to small businesses.
Two years ago, the congressman was working with a local manufacturing business that needed additional capital to expand.
"Luckily, they had a credit union relationship, and got that financing," he said.
Kilmer said he visited the business again recently, and learned it had increased employment by 30% and was thriving.
"Congress neds to be aware that you support economic development," he told his Wednesday morning audience.
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Longtime credit union supporter Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) has sponsored and co-signed several credit union bills over the years; most notably, he has spearheaded efforts on Capitol Hill to allow credit unions to invest in supplement capital.
Sherman said he also supports breaking up the nation's largest banks.
"Too big to fail is too big to exist," he said.
The California congressman also said he's not just a member of a credit union, he belongs to two credit unions: Wescom Credit Union and Congressional Federal Credit Union. His California office is located in a Wescom building and he uses Congressional FCU branches and ATMs in the Capitol.
"If I ever rent out another office, I'm going to make sure the building has a credit union," he said.