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Rep. Young Kim, R-CA (center), with credit union leaders from her local district during Wednesday's Capitol Hill visits at the 2024 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Young Kim, R-CA (center), with credit union leaders from her local district during Wednesday's Capitol Hill visits at the 2024 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C.

Lawmakers & Regulators Hear One Unified Voice on Capitol Hill

Nearly 300 California and Nevada leaders advocated for credit unions with congressional lawmakers and federal regulators during Capitol Hill visits in Washington, D.C. this week, focusing on important issues that have ramifications for operations, guidance, members, and the movement’s future.

During the 2024 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) hosted by America’s Credit Unions (ACU) from Sunday to Wednesday, attendees engaged in the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ sessions, League legislative and regulatory briefings, visits with U.S. House representatives, Senate legislators, and discussions with federal regulatory officials.

Wednesday morning and late afternoon were opened and closed at Credit Union House by visits from congressional Republican and Democratic lawmakers from California and Nevada, along with Leagues’ President and CEO Diana Dykstra, ACU President and CEO Jim Nussle, and other credit union system leaders onsite. These annual gatherings at CU House provide GAC attendees from both states the opportunity to rally for the industry’s cause as they hear directly from lawmakers who are friends and champions of credit unions.

Throughout these gatherings, congressional legislators discussed the ebb and flow of managing the people’s business in the U.S. capitol building just blocks away. They also noted their strong emphasis in championing credit unions within the financial services and political spheres on Capitol Hill. They know credit unions’ philosophy well, and they remain committed to hearing when credit union supporters voice concerns on issues impacting member-owners and the unique credit union structure.

CU House wasn’t the only venue where California lawmakers addressed attendees. Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) spoke on the mainstage at GAC during the week, expressing her support for the work credit unions do and pledging to push back against government overreach. Kim — who introduced the credit union-supported Expanding Access to Lending Options Act in January with Reps. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) — said the bill will help increase consumer access to credit unions. “This bipartisan bill will allow credit unions to offer more loan options and increase the maturities of loans from 15 years to 20 years. It will strengthen access to credit and affordability for families, small businesses, and students,” she said.

Kim said she also supports credit union efforts against regulatory overreach. “As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I’ll continue to hold the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Director Rohit Chopra, and other federal agencies accountable to ensure credit unions continue providing essential services to families and small business,” she noted.

GAC attendees received more good news mid-week as the Secure Payments Act was introduced in the U.S. House, a bill that credit union supporters from California and Nevada have advocated for through the Leagues’ Connect for the Cause grassroots action alert system. This legislation would stop finalization of the Federal Reserve Board’s (FRB) proposed debit interchange fee proposal to study it further, assessing the impact on consumers’ access to low-cost or free checking accounts, fraud prevention, and merchants’ costs of accepting debit cards. It would also require a quantitative analysis on the proposal’s impact to small depository institutions and the availability of debit and banking products to low-income communities.

Meanwhile, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Member Tanya Otsuka also addressed GAC attendees from the mainstage, where she outlined her priorities. Otsuka will focus on “making sure credit unions, especially small low income and MDIs, can continue to stay competitive and provide affordable financial services to their members in a constantly evolving financial system.” She said she wants to keep learning about unique ways credit unions meet member needs and is seeking feedback from credit unions on ways the NCUA can support that goal.

California and Nevada credit union leaders can register to meet Otsuka during a upcoming virtual meeting on Thursday, March 28 (hosted by the Leagues). You can take this opportunity to welcome Otsuka and foster a good working relationship with her, as this is her first meeting with California and Nevada credit unions since her recent NCUA board appointment.

Amid visits between credit union leaders and their congressional lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate offices buildings on Capitol Hill, attendees from California and Nevada refined their message to Congress. The following issues were top-of-mind this year going into GAC:

  • R. 3881/S. 1838: Credit Card Competition Act — oppose.
  • Federal Reserve’s Regulation II: Proposed Debit Interchange Fee Rule — please “stop and study” (Democrats); or co-sponsor the Secure Payments Act (Republicans).
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Proposed Overdraft Regulation — please “stop and study” (Republicans and Democrats).
  • Co-sponsorship opportunities: H.R. 4876/S. 539 (Veterans Member Business Loan Act); H.R. 6933 (Expanding Access to Lending Options Act); S. 610 (Credit Union Board Modernization Act); a national data standard for retailers/merchants (depository institutions already held to privacy standards under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act while retailers lack similar enforced standards) — please consider setting a national standard for financial data security that holds retailers accountable during data breaches.

When appropriate, additional talking points included financial wellbeing and inclusion, the federal credit union tax status, Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) liquidity, cannabis banking, cryptocurrency and digital assets, fintechs, banking deserts, CFPB leadership, regulatory policies tailored to credit unions, and housing affordability.

This year’s GAC saw more than 6,000 advocates from across the nation attend, hailing from approximately 1,000 credit unions in all 50 states. Also in attendance were hundreds of credit union league/association leaders, system vendor-supporters, young professional “crashers,” speakers, and exhibit hall booth professional vendors.

“Thank you once again to everyone who made the trek to remind members of Congress why credit unions exist — and how they, as national leaders, can play a part in enhancing the lives of their constituents,” Dykstra said. “Credit unions must continue our vital efforts to educate, advocate, and build consensus on our legislative and regulatory priorities. We appreciate everyone’s participation! There is always strength in numbers.”

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