Credit unions and credit union trade groups were visibly absent Wednesday, as President Trump met with the heads of three major banking trade groups and representatives of the nation’s largest banks to discuss how to handle the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Trump met in the White House with the heads of the American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Consumer Bankers Association, as well as representatives of some of the largest banks.
None of the credit union trade groups were in the meeting.
The NCUA referred questions about the meeting to the White House, which did not respond to questions about the session.
But a key credit union lobbyist said credit union trade groups are working with Congress and the administration, urging them to make rule changes and enact legislation to provide the institutions with more flexibility.
“We’re at the table, just because we weren’t at that table,” CUNA Chief Advocacy Office Ryan Donovan said. “The question shouldn’t [just] be who’s sitting next to the president.”
In a letter to NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle requested that the agency provide specific information about which credit union employees must be present during an examination and asked that the agency be flexible in scheduling examinations.
He also asked that the agency be flexible in its assessment of credit unions during examinations and requested guidance on whether board and membership meetings may be conducted virtually.
NAFCU’s Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel, Carrie Hunt, said, “Our advocacy team is actively engaged with the Administration and Congress consistently throughout the year, and we are currently in communication with them over the COVID-19′s impact on credit unions and their members.”
NAFCU President/CEO B. Dan Berger wrote to President Trump asking policymakers to provide credit unions with additional tools to assist members.
For instance, he wrote, the six transaction per month limit on transfers between savings and checking accounts should be lifted. In addition, he said, requirements for member meetings should be adjusted, the 15-year general maturity rate should be increased, and he asked that any economic assistance for industries include associations that are being badly affected.
Following the banker meeting, Senate Banking ranking Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio said that as Trump met with the bankers, Americans have serious questions about the economic impact of the coronavirus.
He said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should already have called a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council rather than wait until later this month.
“As President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin meet to once again bend over backward for Wall Street CEOs, the American people are still waiting for answers from the Administration,” Brown said. “The American people are the ones facing the economic consequences of inaction.”
For his part, Mnuchin said he welcomed the opportunity to meet with the bankers, according to a transcript of the public segment of the meeting.
“I’d just say it’s great to always have the bankers in because you have tremendous visibility into the economy and what’s going on,” he said. “And we are interested in hearing that feedback, particularly in small- and medium-sized businesses in particular industries.”