WASHINGTON – Credit Union executives and volunteers are very pessimistic about the prospects for their bill to raise member business loan limits and expect it to die again this year, along with the other credit union-backed bills, as Congress comes to a close as soon as next week.
“The general feeling is, nothing’s going to get done. Everything’s going to be tied up,” said Howard Margulies, a director at Direct FCU, in Needham, Mass.
“They’re really up against the wall and now it’s not going to happen,” said Michael Koss, chairman of Chicago’s Selfreliance Ukrainian American FCU. ”Nothing’s going to happen until January. They (Congress) just don’t want to offend anybody, so absolutely nothing is going to happen.”
The two volunteer directors are among 400 hundred credit union executives and volunteers attending NAFCU’s annual Congressional Caucus this week to lobby Congress for the MBL bill and other credit union priorities, like the bill to eliminate the dual disclosure requirement on ATMs; the proposal to allow credit unions to raise supplemental capital; data security; or legislation to set up an independent review of NCUA and bank examinations.
There are few observers who expect the MBL bill to pass this year.
Attendees are overwhelmingly doubtful of the prospects for any of the bills, as Congress continues in stalemate and is scheduled to adjourn next week for their own reelection campaigns.
“I don’t think credit unions are going to get anything done,” said Barney Chapman, of America First CU in Ogden, Utah.
“I don’t think it’s going to get anywhere in this session,” said Yvonne De La Rosa, head of government relations at San Antonio FCU, who tipped her to the banking lobby’s work to stop the MBL bill. They just have more power than us,” she told the Credit Union Journal yesterday.
“I don’t think it’s going to pass; we’re up against the bankers,” said Victor LaPuma, a director Omaha’s SAC FCU.
Some of the attendees hope the MBL bill or one or more of the others could get voted after Congress returns from the November elections for a so-called lame duck session, when urgent bills will be voted. “Maybe after the election,” said Daniel Johnson, a director at Albany, N.Y., CAP COM FCU. He put the odds for passage of the MBL bill this year at “50-50, maybe less.”
Credit unions have been lobbying for more than a decade to raise the MBL limit, which is at 12.25% of assets. The limit was enacted at the behest of the banks as part of HR 1151, the CU Membership Access Act, as Congress agreed to give something to the banks in exchange for the landmark credit union bill. Since then a proposal to raise the MBL limit has been introduced in at least the last six Congresses—12 years. This year’s bill would lift the limit to as much as 27.5% of assets.