Credit unions seek action in final days of 2019 CUNA GAC
Thursday, March 14, 2019
|Carolinas credit unions closed the 2019 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference on Capitol Hill.
Washington, DC--After two days of networking, information, and motivation at the 2019 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, the more than 150 credit union leaders on hand from the Carolinas were poised to close it Tuesday and Wednesday with "Advocacy in Action" on Capitol Hill. First, each day started with a special guest at the Washington Convention Center.
Vice President Mike Pence made a hard-to-keep-secret surprise visit on Tuesday, and though he raised partisan issues, he gave due credit to his broader audience.
“You make it possible for American families to buy that next car, to send a child to college, to buy that dream home,” Pence said. "We will empower you to do what you do best: serve your members and serve growing communities across America.”
Already fueled to speak to issues, the Tarheel contingent then made its way to the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), hosting Senator Richard Burr (R) and U.S. Representatives David Rouzer (R-NC7), Patrick McHenry (R-NC10), and Alma Adams (D-NC12), plus staff from the offices of Sen. Thom Tillis (R) and Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC1) and George Holding (R-NC2).
“It’s time we shift our focus in Washington towards building a better financial system for the future,” Rep. McHenry told the general session audience Wednesday morning, referencing cybersecurity, fintech, and reforms to “create a new framework for credit unions to harness the power of technology to grow.”
With that, North Carolina advocates traveled to the Cannon House Office Building to welcome U.S. Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC11), Ted Budd (R-NC13), and Richard Hudson (R-NC8).
Meanwhile, South Carolina credit unions had taken their place in the CVC. From mid-morning to mid-afternoon they kept a steady schedule that included Senator Lindsey Graham, U.S. Reps. William Timmons (R-SC4), Joe Cunningham (D-SC1), Ralph Norman (R-SC5), Joe Wilson (R-SC2), and Jeff Duncan (R-SC3), plus Wintta Woldemariam, policy director for Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC6). A small group later met Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC7) in a House office hallway outside his committee meeting.
Once on the Hill each day, the groups asked for action in return.
- Realize the credit union difference. Credit unions are democratically-owned and controlled, not-for-profit cooperatives that serve more than 6-million Carolinians. Their tax-exemption is based on their structure and mission, which they fulfill every day--to the tune of $16 billion in benefit to members nationwide in 2018.
- Secure data and protect consumer privacy. .Too many weak links and a patchwork of regulations leave the data and privacy of citizens at great risk. That can change with a federal security law, strong and consistent data protection rules across jurisdictions, and recognition of data security as a national security issue.
- It's time to right-size regulations. One-size-fits-all regulations don't work, and the cost to credit unions and ultimately members is $6.1 billion and rising. The CFPB should transfer supervisory authority of very large credit unions back to the NCUA, should exempt credit unions from new regulations that address abuses, and should be led by a multi-person committee that would afford diverse perspectives, stability, and a democratic process.
- Modernize federal credit union governance. The Federal Credit Union Act has fallen behind the financial services landscape. Changes related to board meetings and responsibilities, balloting for charter conversions, and establishment of fiscal year are reasonable and logical. Elimination of the 15-year maturity limit on loans would provide more affordable loan choices.
Data protection and security were clearly top-of-mind among the delegations and advocates. Credit unions for years have spoken of the imbalance in responsibility for data in the transaction chain. All indications are of full awareness that the issue is far broader, and that means persistent, patient action from credit unions and all other stakeholders.
"The data security issue is complex and will take time. But what's driving the conversation is that there is real harm," Rep. McHenry told Tuesday's group on Capitol Hill. "I care about what happens to my constituents' information."
See more coverage from Washington in CUNA's Top Stories from the CUNA GAC, view our 2019 CUNA GAC gallery. and follow @TheCCUL on Twitter.