WASHINGTON – A CUNA-sponsored Capitol Hill event yesterday focusing on the timeliness of adopting credit union business lending legislation was live-streamed on the Internet, bringing the urgency of the legislation into the offices of House and Senate members, as well as headquarters of credit unions and leagues across the country.
The sponsors of Senate and House legislation to give credit unions more business lending authority—Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.)—made special appearances at the event, which drew nearly 200 credit union and small business supporters, as well as members of congressional staff. The event also included panels of small business advocates, credit unions, and small business owners.
Presented by the Washington-based publication The Hill, the event was designed to highlight legislation that would increase the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap, which has wide bi-partisan support. Senate leadership remains committed to a floor vote on the legislation.
Speaking first, Udall said that the restriction on credit union business lending is a "regulation that we ought to lift."
"When credit unions have this additional capacity to lend to small businesses, it's a no-cost, sure-fire way to grow our economy," Udall said.
Noting the large group of credit union business lending supporters assembled at the briefing, Royce said he was delighted at the strong turnout. "It reflects the interest in what we can do to help small business in the United States; this is where we should start," he said.
CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney noted that the economy desperately needs every reasonable chance it can get to help create new jobs, and the time is now for Congress to pass legislation giving credit unions more authority to make business loans, Cheney added. "It comes down to this," Cheney said, "We know the economy needs to add jobs; we know small business needs greater access to credit; we know we have at least a partial solution at our fingertips. That is: Give credit unions more authority to make business loans."
NJCUL President Paul Gentile was among those in attendance. Following the press event, Gentile brought the MBL reform message directly to Senate Banking Committee Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) when he attended a high-level campaign briefing and dinner with the senator. Gentile has discussed the issue with him three times in the past few months, and the senator’s legislative counsel and district outreach coordinator met with New Jersey credit union leaders at the League on August 30.