WASHINGTON – The end of the elections season and impending lame duck session of Congress have done little to lessen the bankers opposition to the member business loan bill, even as the credit union lobby tries one more time to get a “yes” vote in Congress on legislation to raise the MBL limit.

“Credit unions in our town are competing with us on an unlevel playing field,” said Debra Lauderbaugh, a compliance officer at First National Bank of Bemidji (Minn.), explaining her position this afternoon during the American Bankers Association’s Money Laundering Enforcement Conference.

“We don’t want the bill to pass. Credit unions have expanded their original charter and are now unfair competitors,” Jon Maisey, vice president of corporate risk management at Oneida (New York) Savings Bank, told the Credit Union Journal at the bankers’ conference.

“It’s challenging,” said another banker who did not want to be identified because she was not authorized to speak to the press. “But it’s just one more thing that’s going to make for an unlevel playing field because their tax exemption means we just can’t compete on rates.”

“We think they should continue on their original principals, which was to serve people, and not the community,” said Melvin Rapini, an internal auditor with U.S. Bank in St. Louis, on why he continues to oppose the credit union bill.

The bankers’ continued intransigence comes as the credit union lobby is making a final effort to get the MBLs bill passed in Congress during a two- or three-week post-election session known as a lame duck session. CUNA is planning a fly-in of more than 500 credit union executives and allies in the days after Thanksgiving to lobby for passage of the bill.

Credit unions have been trying for more than a decade to get the an increase on the MBLs cap—which was set at the bankers’ behest at 12.25% of assets as part of HR 1151, the CU Membership Access Act. The ABA and its allies succeeded in getting the MBL cap included in HR 1151 as part of a price for overturning the Supreme Court ruling barring multiple group fields of membership.

The latest bill would raise the cap all the way up to 27.5% of assets, but since neither the House or Senate agreed to vote the bill during the normal congressional session, chances are negligible they will agree to vote it during the lame duck.


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