WASHINGTON-It was 15 years ago this week that President Bill Clinton signed into law the Credit Union Membership Access Act, better known as HR 1151, which codified credit unions' powers to serve multiple groups.

With a brief, "this is a good bill," President Clinton signed the bill on Aug. 7, 1998, flanked by many credit union dignitaries, including the heads of NCUA, CUNA and NAFCU, as well as the bill's chief sponsors, Pennsylvania Democrat Paul Kanjorski and Ohio Republican Steve LaTourette.

Credit Union Journal was the only CU publication on hand for the signing of the bill in the Oval Office, which marked the culmination of an historic and extraordinary effort by credit unions to get their voice heard in Washington. Afterward, Clinton talked about the bill for a few moments during another event in the Rose Garden. The victory came with a price, however; a 12.5% cap on member business loans for federal CUs that credit unions continue to fight.

The bill was hastily introduced in Congress (and came within one vote of never getting out of committee) and quickly passed after the Supreme Court, at the request of the bankers, ruled that NCUA's multiple groups field of membership policy violated the Federal CU Act's common bond restrictions.

Readers can go to CUJournal.com this week for a special package of stories that looks back on that historic day and the weeks and months leading up to it.

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