Yesterday, Cornerstone League EVP/Chief Advocacy Officer Jim Phelps led a virtual legislative briefing designed to help credit union leaders as they engage with elected officials who have returned to their home districts during what’s known in Congress as the August Recess.
“Legislation in D.C. usually works at a slow pace, but right now things are moving pretty quickly,” said Phelps. “It’s an exciting time for a Hike at Home during the August Recess—and later in September for our annual Hike the Hill in Washington, D.C.”
The U.S. House recess is already in progress, and the Senate recess runs Aug. 8–Sept. 2, Phelps said.
“This is a particularly fortuitous time for us to engage with lawmakers because we just went through the redistricting process, which happens every 10 years,” Phelps said. “With some new districts in play for the midterms, elected officials and candidates for office are more interested in meeting with constituents.”
Phelps pointed to the priority issues that are taking place in Congress right now. That includes the new interchange bill, S. 4674, the Credit Card Competition Act, brought by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.). This bill would change the interchange system by allowing merchants to bypass established secure payment networks.
Credit union and association leaders have been talking about the possibility of this bill for some time. After the interchange debacle on debit card fees from the Durbin amendment 12 years ago, Phelps impressed upon briefing attendees how critical it is to express to lawmakers why we strongly oppose S. 4674.
Other bills of concern in Congress include a bill on overdraft protection, which would limit credit unions from serving their members. “This has to be considered regulatory overreach, when regulators look at all fees as junk fees,” Phelps said. “H.R. 4277, the Overdraft Protection Act, was just voted to advance by the House Financial Services Committee last week, and though it will have to pass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, we want to keep our eyes on that.”
Another bill to watch for is H.R. 8152, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act. Phelps said Cornerstone supports the bill in general, but we do have some issues we would like addressed.
On Jan. 1, 2023, the Current Expected Credit Loss accounting standard takes effect. “We still want to talk about that with our lawmakers,” Phelps said. “The potential impact of CECL will be top of mind, and we need to keep lawmakers apprised of its effects on credit unions as well as credit union members.”
Phelps also discussed the credit union modernization bill that just passed the House, which covered board meetings and takes some of the burden off credit unions in terms of resources, changing the requirement for board meetings from monthly to six times per year.
Finally, Phelps said, we are always cognizant of our tax status, as it relates to congressional budget issues and attacks from big banks. We encourage credit union advocates to remind lawmakers about the benefits of the tax exemption to consumers.
The August Recess presents a great opportunity for credit unions to make connections with elected officials via an informal Hike at Home. Cornerstone encourages credit union leaders to connect and engage with lawmakers to discuss the credit union difference, stress the importance of regulatory relief, and offer your expertise when lawmakers need an industry perspective.
Here are some ideas for political engagement over the congressional recess:
If you have questions about how to set up a meeting, please contact April Krause.
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