February 9, 2012
With the strides made in 2011 and the growing push for credit union-friendly legislation, strong advocacy programs are more vital now than ever to the future of the credit union movement. Credit union professionals from around the country will converge on Washington, D.C., next month in an effort to continue to build momentum behind issues such as member business lending (MBL) and supplemental capital at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
Scheduled for March 18-22, the CUNA GAC is the premier conference to attend for political impact, credit union networking and up-to-date industry information. This year’s keynote speakers include former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, famous journalistic duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and D.C.’s most trusted voice on political campaigns, Charlie Cook.
More than 4,000 credit union advocates are expected to attend—including more than 200 from the Northwest—with a goal of demonstrating to legislators how the movement’s commitment to members makes credit unions different from other financial institutions. The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) has established a dedicated CUNA GAC webpage, which includes registration information and real-time agenda updates, to serve as a resource for attendees.
“With the way things are shaping up in Congress, the timing of this year’s GAC and visit to Capitol Hill couldn’t be better,” said NWCUA Director of Legislative Advocacy Jennifer Wagner. “Our top legislative priorities are all getting increased attention on the Hill from members of Congress, the media and, unfortunately, our foes, who are pulling out all the stops to oppose our efforts. We are confident that sending 200 Northwest credit union advocates to meet with our congressional delegation will send a strong message and help continue to move these issues in the right direction.”
The issues at stake include lifting the credit union MBL cap, which gained another influential supporter when recently-elected Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., made it her first official act after being sworn in to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Small-Business Lending Enhancement Act of 2011.
The Capitol Hill newsletter “National Journal Daily” also published an article with the headline, “Credit Unions’ Push Puts Banks in Tailspin” this week in advance of a CUNA press conference held on the MBL issue.
“As the headline and quotes make clear, the banking lobby is angry and frustrated that their opposition to our member business lending legislation is preventing a regulatory relief bill they strongly support from going anywhere,” said CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney. “As CUNA’s John Magill states in the story, we are more than willing to see their bill advance if our MBL bill advances as well; we have no objection to regulatory relief. But if the banks are unwilling to consider a balanced approach and accept our MBL legislation, they will continue to be frustrated.”
The CUNA GAC will kick off with the NWCUA welcome reception at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18, as a way to gather Northwest attendees and provide them with critical last-minute information while celebrating the beginning of an exciting event.
On Tuesday, the most significant event comes in the form of the Association’s legislative briefings. According to Wagner, the briefings will be provided in smaller groups and will include more district-specific information than in years past.
Wednesday’s meetings with legislators are already being scheduled and will likely begin around the lunch hour, with meetings generally taking place between noon and 5 p.m. Meetings with senators from both Oregon and Washington have been confirmed and will take place from 4-5 p.m., capping the afternoon’s slate.
The final event is the Hill reception, which will take place immediately after the Hill meetings to provide an opportunity to celebrate the week’s work and share comments and thoughts from the meetings. Congressional staff is being invited to attend as well, and the Hill reception, likely to wrap up late Wednesday evening, will conclude conference activities.
Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team: