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WASHINGTON-Freshman Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) made the move July 14 to withdraw her name as a co-sponsor to the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317). At the same time, three new co-sponsors were added: Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and Financial Services Committee Members Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.). Total co-sponsorship stands at 76 as of press time, well above the 69 established in the 108th Congress. Moore provided Credit Union Times with this statement, “When I initially considered cosponsoring CURIA, the basis for my decision was my familiarity with the nearly 300 credit union institutions in Wisconsin that are primarily small, have a narrowly defined membership base, and claim less than $100 million in assets. I am very supportive of the mission of those credit unions, as I have personally seen the benefits they can provide. In fact, as a VISTA volunteer I led the fight to start the Cream City Community Development Credit Union when I discovered that people in my neighborhood were being ignored by banks. “However, I have become concerned with the continued growth of the nation’s larger credit unions-the 99 institutions that claim more than $1 billion in assets. I am not yet prepared to expand their lending capability by at least $77 million each at this time, when there is concern that some of these enormous credit unions are acting more and more like traditional banks.” Moore removed her name from the list of co-sponsors following what CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn termed “a significant hit” from the Wisconsin bankers. “She’s a freshman member of the House, probably views herself as still somewhat vulnerable and was trying to take herself, she thinks, out of harm’s way apparently,” he explained. “I’m not so sure she accomplished that, but we think that that was her motivation.” Wisconsin Bankers Association Director of Communications Cheryl McCollum said, “We certainly are aware that she took her name off the bill and we are pleased that she did it. That’s about the only comment we have on the issue.” The home page of the WBA’s Web site (www.wisbank.com) contains a number of anti-CURIA items, including a sample fax for members to send to lawmakers stating, “Credit unions were chartered to serve individuals of modest means – not to make commercial loans. This major expansion of business lending authority would benefit only the largest, most aggressive credit unions, while putting both smaller credit unions and tax-paying financial institutions at a greater competitive disadvantage.” It also raised objections to the risk-based capital provisions. However, credit unions are a powerful lobbying force. Kohn commented, “We’re not happy with what she did and I know the Wisconsin folks are going to make it very clear. When she first ran for Congress, in a written response to their questionnaire, she said she would gladly and proudly sign onto CURIA, so now that she’s gone back on her word if you will and her action, they’ll make sure that she knows that they’re not happy.” Moore’s office did not return calls seeking comment. While the league is “sensitive” to Moore’s responsibilities, Wisconsin Credit Union League Director of Government Affairs Tom Liebe said she is not going to get a free pass. “We’ll let our members know what’s happened and they’ll let their members know what happened,” he stated. When asked if he was aware of any problems the lawmaker has with the legislation, Liebe said, “That was my concern, not hearing what her specific concerns were.” However, he added the league plans to schedule a meeting with her. Liebe said the league is “real hopeful” that she would still vote for the bill if it came up. “What I’ve heard and seen from her is very encouraging,” Liebe said, explaining that many years ago Moore had helped found a credit union. NAFCU Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said his trade association had scheduled an appointment with her staff at the end of last week. It was his understanding, he said, that Moore has concerns about one particular area of the bill, though he did not know which provision. “We’ll go in and talk with her staff and see if we can alleviate her concerns,” he said. [email protected]

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