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WASHINGTON-Nearly 1,000 credit union representatives are expected to converge upon Capitol Hill in September for CUNA’s National Hike the Hill Month. The national `hike’ was slated to start with the New York State Credit Union League Sept. 7 when Congress returns from the August recess. The week of Sept. 20, the Hill will be crawling with credit union representatives when officials from about 42 states will be in town, all in order to counter the bankers’ tax exemption attacks. “We’re mostly focusing on our credit union tax exemption and why we’re different from other financial institutions,” CUNA Director of Grassroots and Political Involvement Gretchen Graf said. On Sept. 22, CUNA will host a two-hour “Election Fair” at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill, to demonstrate to participants that credit union members love their credit unions, but also vote based on credit union issues. Political analyst Charlie Cook of The Cook Report, an online political site, and key lawmakers have been invited to address the election fair. It will also feature a variety of informational booths to learn more about honing their political involvement skills, a “Get Out the Vote” program; zip-code matching of credit union members to congressional districts (CUNA’s Project Zip Code); political advocacy through partisan communication; and grassroots activism. Snack booths and video presentations will also be open during the Election Fair. “We have one month before the elections to reach out to members of Congress while they are still in Washington and urge them to ignore the banker rhetoric and continue supporting credit unions,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica commented. In that month, credit union representatives will pound the idea of maintaining the tax exemption into congressional heads. Though avoiding taxation is currently the main focus of the Hill visits, that could change as other issues arise. “Both with bankruptcy reform and regulatory relie they are long shots at this point,” CUNA Vice President and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn said. “Bankruptcy-we continue to look for ways to try to get around the problem presented by the lack of floor time. There is considerable interest in doing that but again the way has not been found yet. For regulatory relief, Senator Crapo has his matrix; he’s invited comments on it.I think he is hoping that from those comments that he can find a consensus bill to introduce before the end of the session that would essentially serve as a launching pad for early next year. Everybody realizes that it would be extremely unlikely to get a bill passed this year.” Graf followed up, “Obviously if something happens on bankruptcy or there’s a chance for the Senate to do something on regulatory relief, we’ll be pushing that and credit unions are always meeting with their members and asking for their support on CURIA.” But, these items, as Kohn said, are long shots with floor time on the congressional calendar ticking away and 12 of 13 appropriations bills still pending in Congress. “Congress comes back [Sept. 7] and the bulk of the activity on the Hill is going to be focused on trying to wrap up so they can go home in early October to prepare for the election,” Kohn explained. “Whether they’re going to come back afterwards for a lame duck session is still open to question. There are a considerable number of members who have suggested that they don’t see how it can be avoided, but there have been a number of others who’ve suggested that they will make every effort to avoid it at all costs.” [email protected]

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