WASHINGTON-Two congressmen told attendees of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference that credit unions' presence on Capitol Hill is strong and positive. "When I think of credit unions, I think of grassroots," Congressman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) said during a panel discussion. While credit unions generally do enjoy strong bipartisan support, to keep credit unions motivated the congressman warned, "You can't sit back in this business or you get run over by a locomotive." Making connections and keeping them going are important. Not only should credit unions be coming to Washington to visit with their representatives, but they should also be meeting with them in their districts. Democrat Brad Sherman (Calif.), who introduced the secondary capital amendments last congressional session during regulatory relief debate, said, "One of the tremendous benefits credit unions have is their relationships with their members." He pointed out that everyone in Congress has strong ties to their constituents back home and credit unions are uniquely plugged into those voters. In addition, Sherman noted credit unions' and banks' very different lobbying approaches: "credit unions talk about credit unions and banks talk about credit unions." Much of the bankers face-time with lawmakers is used to contain credit unions rather than promote themselves, he observed, whereas credit unions just talk about what will help them. Ney agreed pointing to the regulatory relief bill as proof. Two community banker groups vehemently opposed the credit union provisions of the bill and the largest banking lobby group withdrew its support from the bill based on the credit union provisions. Sherman said he thinks Congress will get the regulatory relief legislation enacted this year and Ney was also hopeful. Sherman added, "We need to get supplemental capital as part of that bill." Last congressional session, the congressman introduced and withdrew a secondary capital amendment twice to get the issue in the minds of the legislators. [email protected]

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