WASHINGTON – A brief post-election congressional session focusing on a year-end budget deadline being called the “fiscal cliff” is posing new opportunities for credit unions to push the member business loan bill, according to credit union lobbyists.

“I think there’s going to be a handful of must-pass bills during the lame duck session, any one of which could serve as a potential vehicle for us,” John Magill, chief lobbyist for CUNA, said Monday of a last-ditch effort to get the long-sought rise in the MBL limit passed. A bill to raise the MBL limit, currently 12.25% of assets, has been before the Congress for at least ten years, with the likelihood it will be introduced in yet another Congress next year if it does not pass in this lame duck session.

“Instead of having a one-week session, it’s likely they’ll be here for several weeks, and the longer they’re here the more vehicles we’re likely to have to attach MBL to,” Magill said this morning. CUNA plans to have a nationwide fly-in of credit union executives for a ‘Hike the Hill’ lobby in the coming days for a last-minute push on the bill.

Yesterday’s draw in congressional elections—in which Republicans retained control of the House and Democrats kept control of the Senate—is expected to stretch out the lame duck session, giving additional opportunities to attach the MBL bill to a must-pass measure. The biggest issue being debated is a self-mandated year-end deadline for massive spending agreements that will require automatic huge cuts in spending unless resolved.

“They might have a longer lame duck session because nothing is really going to change,” Brad Thaler, senior lobbyist for NAFCU told the Credit Union Journal, explaining that there would be no advantage gained by either party to wait to resolve important issues until the next Congress. “The mindset has always been, ‘if things change, it could be different in the next Congress. But not now.”

But a longer lame duck session could also pose perils for credit unions, because of the possibility the credit union tax exemption will be thrown into the debate over budget, asserted Thaler.


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