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Former credit union staffer to retire from Congress

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A key credit union champion won’t be returning to Congress after 2020.

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) earlier this month announced his plans to retire at the end of this congressional session. The four-term congressman is unique in that he is one of only a small handful of Washington lawmakers – less than 2% – with experience working inside a credit union.

In a letter posted on his website, Heck said that while he has felt privileged to be a part of many of the major issues of the day – “Heck, I even loved becoming one of the House’s foremost monetary policy experts. How nerdy is that?” he wrote – he is leaving partly because he is discouraged by the current political climate.

“The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary,” he wrote. “I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the president’s unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth.”

Along with more time with his wife and family, Heck said his future after Congress holds “more movies and sleep and time at the cabin. Washington State so has it over Washington, D.C.” He also said he hopes to write a pair of books, though no details on those projects were provided.

In the late 1970s Heck was director of marketing for Columbia Community CU in Vancouver, Wash. And since the 1980s has been a member of Washington State Employees Credit Union. After working in public affairs, state government and more, he was elected to Congress in 2012 after an unsuccessful run in 2010.

Along with speaking out on credit union issues in Congress, Heck most notably cosponsored a “stop and study” bill in 2017 that would have delayed the National Credit Union Administration’s risk-based capital rule. That bill never made it into law and NCUA earlier this year delayed RBC implementation to Jan. 1, 2022.

Troy Stang, president and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association, which serves CUs in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, said via email, “We deeply appreciate Rep. Heck’s support of credit unions and their 7.3 million members in the Northwest. We thank him for his years of public service and we wish him and his family the best.”

This story was updated at 11:58 A.M. on Dec. 27, 2019.

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