WASHINGTON-CUNA and league leaders, as well as some well-known Washington dignitaries, met at Credit Union House last week to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Credit Union Membership Access Act. Former congressman and CUNA CEO Dan Mica emceed the anniversary luncheon. On hand for the celebration were the law’s main co-sponsors Congressmen Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and Steven LaTourette and the man who shepherded the bill through the Senate, Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). Each of the lawmakers spoke highly of credit unions’ ability to get that legislation completed in one congressional session and the community’s accomplishments since that time. Though the final vote on the legislation that allowed credit unions to hold onto between 20 and 30 million credit union members and add millions more since that time was an overwhelming 411-8 in the House and 92-6 in the Senate, Sarbanes said that did not portray the true story. “To the uninformed observer that would have suggested an easy piece of legislation.There is nothing further from the truth,” he recalled. He and others noted how credit unions had a difficult time getting anyone to sponsor the legislation to begin with. While the credit union leadership gave credit to the lawmakers for the bill’s success in 1998, they in turn credited the community’s lobbying efforts and strong relationship with its members for the legislation’s ultimate passage. Kanjorski noted that though he has not agreed with CUNA on all credit union issues-most notably bankruptcy reform and private depository insurance-he feels “proud of really being adopted into a family” since the H.R. 1151 battle. He also emphasized the need for credit unions to get more involved in business lending. LaTourette remembered being called upon by top members of the House during his second term to co-sponsor the bill and had told Plain Dealer, an Ohio newspaper, for a recent article that CUMAA was the most important of his accomplishments since coming to Congress. Sarbanes also complimented CUNA and the World Council of Credit Unions’ work to push the Microenterprise for Self-Reliance Act (H.R. 192), which will help ensure that the poorest of the poor are identified and provided needed microenterprise credits, loans, and assistance. NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar also made brief remarks at the celebration.

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