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WASHINGTON — Credit unions were the good actors during the lead up to the current economic crisis, but that doesn’t mean their good behavior will be rewarded.That was the message key members of Congress delivered during their remarks at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference.Credit unions may have to be content with not having bad things happen to them, rather than getting any legislative goodies.“If only credit unions had made loans, there would have been no subprime loans,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.Because of that prudent behavior, he said he would work to ensure that the tax exemption stays in place and expressed support for expanding credit unions’ ability to serve the underserved. But he made no mention of credit union priorities, such as raising or eliminating the limit on member business loans or allowing risk-based capital.Frank also said there was a downside to credit unions having acted responsibly.“You are the good kids,” he said, “and sometimes they don’t get the attention that the ones who behave badly do.”Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, who noted that he is a member of a credit union and praised credit unions’ efforts on behalf of working families, said, “I regret you are paying the price for errors made by others.”Dodd made no promises about how credit unions will fare during the upcoming debates surrounding regulatory restructuring but said he would work “to ensure that there will be a seat at the table for America’s credit unions.”Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), urged attendees to get “fired up” as they make their case on Capitol Hill about their good work but also made no promises about what this session of Congress will hold for credit unions. He also thanked credit unions for their efforts last year when they helped him pull off a victory in a tight reelection year.Joint Economic Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said she would work to preserve credit unions’ tax-exempt status and keep the NCUA as an independent agency. She made no promises about additional regulatory relief.“I am part of your voice in Congress,” she said.Although Democrats control both the House and Senate, in keeping with its bipartisan tradition, CUNA heard from its Republican friends as well.House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that while Republicans are eager to find common ground with Democrats, the GOP will oppose policies it thinks will hurt the economy, such as a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to rewrite the terms of mortgages.Allowing contracts to be rewritten by a judge “will cause higher interest rates and bring less liquidity to the housing market,” he said.House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) praised the efforts of credit unions and urged attendees to “speak out and stand up for every community and family you serve.”Cantor also said Republicans would work to ensure that any regulatory restructuring will take into account “that you play a unique role and provide many people the best available option for accessing credit. We won’t forget you.”–[email protected]

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