The Advocate - Legislative Update
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:00 AM

Federal News

Congress returned to Washington, DC, on September 9 to tackle a full agenda, including votes to strike Syria, the debt ceiling, funding the government via "continuing resolutions," and tax reform. Syria and appropriations bills will dominate the September agenda.

Tweet Congress

It's Don't Tax Tuesday—a great day to tweet Congress using CUNA's online "Tweet Congress" tool. It's not too late to participate, so get tweeting!

CUNA has 2400 Twitter followers and 16,000 followers on Facebook. You can be part of this extraordinary effort employing modern media to communicate with your lawmakers. Just click on the Don't Tax My CU links in this Advocate.

As part of their comprehensive social media campaign, CUNA has expressed an intention to host a national online rally to protect the tax exemption on October 2. They've developed an app that you can download to your cell phone. Watch for more information coming soon.

Tax Reform

During the August recess, the Houston Chapter of credit unions met with Congressman Kevin Brady, a subcommittee chairman on the Ways and Means Committee in the US House of Representatives. The meeting was attended by approximately 40 credit union officials and members, most of whom are Brady's constituents. Attendees engaged Congressman Brady in more than an hour of discussions regarding the need to preserve the credit union tax exemption. From CEOs to borrowers, everyone did a great job of expressing the reasons why the CU tax exemption is important and needs to be maintained in any tax reform effort.

As Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) continue to travel the US gathering input on tax reform, CUNA expects legislation to be introduced over the next few months in both the House and Senate.

Don't Tax My CU Campaign Escalates

Now that Congress has returned, credit unions need to not only continue their grassroots efforts, but step them up and apply pressure. It's more critical than ever for credit unions and their members to make sure the message "Don't Tax My CU" is heard loud and clear above other industries that are fighting to maintain their tax exemptions as well.

In the "Don't Tax My CU" campaign, CUNA has tracked 800,000 contacts made by credit unions to their lawmakers—a historical effort by any modern measure, though much more needs to be done. Banks continue to push back, of course, as evidenced by their new campaign in which they claim credit unions don't pay their fair share and are not true to their original mission.

CUNA has also created a Spanish language website at www.NoImpuestosAMiCU.org, so Spanish-speaking credit union members can contribute to the momentum and make contact with their lawmakers by sending emails and tweets. Check out the Spanish-language marketing tools available in CUNA's Tax Advocacy Toolkit.

Housing Finance Reform (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac)

Housing finance reform (known as the "PATH Act" in the House and "Corker-Warner" in the Senate) is a major issue being pushed by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling. CUNA is pressing Congress to make sure any Housing reform retains affordable loan products like the 30-year mortgage. CUNA is also insisting that the secondary market structure must preserve options for credit unions and that credit unions must be allowed to retain servicing rights in any legislation. CUNA has been meeting with committee staff about their concerns that the bill does not adequately meet the needs of credit unions for a secondary market, and has pressed for some form of government guarantee to remain in the new secondary market.

Interchange Regulation Court Case

CUNA reported that briefs have been filed with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on the interchange decision. The Appeal's Court posted a schedule for the case, and all parties involved must have procedural and technical documents filed with the court by Sept. 26 and arguments in favor of their positions by Oct. 11.

Briefs from all parties said the Federal Reserve should not adopt rules implementing US District Court Judge Richard Leon's decision and an expedited appeal should be pursued. Neither retailers nor financial institutions support his decision in the case, so the judge is in a quandary as to whether he should force the Fed to change the rules or allow the appeal to move forward. Not even the plaintiff supports the judge's decision, and that may impact how the case plays out. For now, everything is status quo regarding the rates for interchange, and even an expedited appeal could take a year.