President Donald Trump’s signature on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act is the culmination of a years-long process of advocacy on both sides of the aisle, a process that resulted in a historic win for credit unions and the 110 million Americans they serve.
This process began after the 2016 election, when CUNA saw that an administration and Congress under single-party control represented a chance to see real change enacted into law. So we launched the Campaign for Common-Sense Regulation, taking a 360-degree approach to getting past the biggest regulatory hurdles facing credit unions.
The name was carefully chosen, as we wanted to make it very clear: Credit unions are not against regulation. Rather, they stand against one-size-fits-all regulations that treat member-owned financial cooperatives the same as the biggest banks on Wall Street.
S. 2155 is a perfect example of that sort of common-sense regulation. Carefully crafted by leaders from both parties, the bill does nothing to remove important consumer protections put in place after the financial crisis.
Rather, its provisions take aim at some of the Dodd-Frank provisions that were getting in the way of consumer access to safe and affordable products and services.
Working with our partners at state credit union leagues, as well as credit union boards, staff and members, we engaged with this process on every level.
CUNA and leagues conducted nearly 2,000 meetings with lawmakers, testified before Congress three times and sent dozens of letters to legislators.
More than 5,000 credit union leaders came to Washington in February and went to Capitol Hill to tell their elected officials face-to-face exactly how this bill would help them serve their members better through countless stories and examples from their own membership.
Our credit union leaders kept this momentum up as the Congress considered the bill, sending tens of thousands of messages to policymakers, urging them to get on board with this historic, bipartisan legislation.
Having seen Congress set the example by working across the aisle, credit unions did the same. State leagues from around the country joined with their banking counterparts, to send letters to states’ entire congressional delegations in support of S. 2155.
And of course we utilized the most valuable resource we have in the credit union system: The 110 million Americans that choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
Credit unions used CUNA’s Member Activation Program to strategically reach 1.9 million credit union members, telling them exactly what this regulatory relief would mean for them.
Every one of these efforts, each message, each impression, each face-to-face meeting, helped to push back against false narratives pushed by the bill’s opponents.
Knowing we had their backs, legislators stood strong under these attacks, knowing because they heard it from us that this bill was the right thing to do, and they prevailed.
The credit union system is a cooperative one, and the path of S. 2155 shows us exactly what can be accomplished when we take advantage of this to the fullest extent possible.
From the earliest talks about regulatory relief, to President Trump’s pen hitting the paper, credit unions were there every step of the way, showing with words and actions exactly how consumers would benefit from increased access to safe, affordable mortgages and business loans.
And while this brand-new law is a historic milestone for credit unions, we’re not finished yet. Members of Congress have already indicated willingness to move forward on additional bipartisan regulation.
We’ve seen the path to success, and seen the impact our voices can have when they’re channeled properly.
And on behalf of 110 million credit union members, we’re ready to keep going.
Jim Nussle is president/CEO of CUNA. He can be reached at 202-508-6745 or email@example.com.