NAFCU, as CUs' Washington Watchdog, secures key meetings in 2019
As the industry's Washington Watchdog, NAFCU meets regularly with key regulators, lawmakers, and administration officials to ensure credit unions' voices are heard at the highest levels of government. In 2019, the association secured numerous meetings to discuss industry priorities, including housing finance reform, regulatory relief, examinations, payments, small business lending, and more.
In addition to meeting with decision makers, NAFCU also submitted a number of comment letters on these issues and more. Here's a look at some of the agencies and officials NAFCU and credit unions met with this year (visit NAFCU's Facebook page to see pictures from these meetings and more):
NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger and Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Carrie Hunt met at the White House in March to discuss credit union priorities, including housing finance reform and regulatory relief, and learn more about the administration's efforts on key issues. In 2018, NAFCU secured credit unions' first meeting with President Donald Trump.
NAFCU kicked off 2019 with a Capitol Hill blitz, meeting with numerous lawmakers to share its priorities for the year, of which credit union growth is No. 1. NAFCU also had the opportunity to meet with lawmakers directly on:
- CECL: NAFCU's legislative affairs team met with lawmakers in June as a number raised concerns about the negative impacts the current expected credit loss (CECL) standard could have on credit unions and other smaller financial institutions;
- Housing finance reform: in March, Hunt testified before the Senate Banking Committee to reiterate the need for "fair access, fair pricing, and ensuring that we have a government guarantee";
- Small business lending: NAFCU witness Gail Jansen of Kinecta Federal Credit union testified before a House Small Business subcommittee in April to share how credit unions work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to support their communities and urged against raising fees for the 7(a) loan program, which was addressed in federal government spending packages enacted last week; and
- MDIs: JetStream Federal Credit Union's Mara Falero, testifying on behalf of NAFCU at a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing in October, urged Congress to take action to allow credit unions to better serve more Americans, specifically those in low-income and underserved communities.
NAFCU's advocacy with new NCUA Board Chairman Rodney Hood and Member Todd Harper began immediately after the two took their positions in April and continued steadily throughout the year. In addition to sharing the association's priorities, NAFCU met with the NCUA to discuss various issues, including:
- CECL: providing additional relief and guidance to credit unions under CECL during a May meeting, at NAFCU's Annual Conference in June, and a meeting with members of NAFCU's Board of Directors;
- Exams: the NCUA's efforts to modernize and improve examinations directly with Hood and Harper;
- FOM: field of membership (FOM) and chartering rules with NCUA staff following the NCUA's appeals court win in the lawsuit brought by the American Bankers Association and subsequent proposed rule to address remaining issues;
- Budget: NAFCU's Curt Long testified on the NCUA's proposed 2020-2021 budgets, urging increased transparency and accountability;
- Upcoming rulemakings: the NCUA's spring rulemaking agenda with Harper in August, which included modernizing federal credit union bylaws, payday alternative loans (PALs), and subordinated debt;
- PALs: ahead of the NCUA's approval of a final rule in September to expand its PALs program, NAFCU and member credit unions met with the agency in May to encourage flexible parameters; and
- Corporate credit unions: allowing corporate credit unions to allow more flexibility in the role they play in providing liquidity to credit unions during a July meeting with the NCUA's Office of National Examination and Supervision.
CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger took the lead at the bureau in late 2018. Berger met with Kraninger in March to discuss ways to reduce credit unions' regulatory burden. The association also met with the bureau in 2019 on:
- Debt collection: NAFCU continued to urge the bureau to exempt credit unions from any debt collection rulemakings, including its third-party debt collection rule, and shared how debt collection efforts are impacted by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) during a June meeting;
- TRID: in another June meeting, NAFCU shared credit unions' concerns with the TILA/RESPA integrated disclosure (TRID) rule, including the need for more clarity and assistance;
- GSE patch: as the bureau considers the possible expiration of the temporary government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) qualified mortgage (QM) patch (or GSE patch), NAFCU highlighted the benefits the patch provides credit unions in October;
- Upcoming rulemakings: NAFCU met with CFPB Deputy Director Brian Johnson to discuss the bureau's fall rulemaking agenda, which included unfair, deceptive, or abuse acts or practices, small business data collection, payday lending, remittances, and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act;
- Innovation policies: members of NAFCU's Regulatory Compliance and Regulatory Affairs teams met with CFPB Office of Innovation Director Paul Watkins on its proposed policies to promote innovation; and
- Payday lending: in addition to meeting with the NCUA on the issue, NAFCU met with the bureau to urge it to expand its PALs safe harbor.
NAFCU's Board of Directors meets annually with the Federal Reserve, meeting this year with Federal Reserve Board Governor Michelle Bowman to share the association's 2019 Report on Credit Unions as well as CECL, cybersecurity and more.
In addition, Long, NAFCU's chief economist and vice president of research, led meetings with several Federal Reserve Banks – New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, and Minneapolis – and member credit unions to discuss fintech, payments, and economic trends.
NAFCU continues to seek guidance and relief under the TCPA to ensure credit unions can contact members with important financial information without fear of breaking the law. Early in the year, NAFCU met with staff from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai's office and the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Office. Ahead of Congress passing a bill to target illegal robocalls last week, Berger met directly with FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly to discuss the FCC's efforts to modernize the TCPA.
Treasury Department, FHFA, GSEs
As a leader in housing finance reform, NAFCU stayed closely connected with key leaders in this space throughout the year ahead of the Treasury Department releasing its plans. Of note:
- Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Dr. Mark Calabria spoke at NAFCU's Congressional Caucus to update credit unions directly on housing finance reform plans. NAFCU and member credit unions met with Calabria in June on various GSE and housing reform issues, and NAFCU met again with Calabria in October to discuss was to preserve credit unions' access to the secondary mortgage market through the GSEs. Before Calabria was made FHFA director, NAFCU met with Acting Director Joseph Otting on these issues as well.
- NAFCU met several times with the Treasury Department during the year, including in March with the department's housing policy staff and Counselor Craig Phillips, and last month with Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Bimal Patel.
- Berger also met with Fannie Mae CEO Hugh Frater and Freddie Mac CEO David Brickman to discuss developments at the GSEs.
NAFCU's Congressional Caucus in September brought dozens of regulators, administration officials, and lawmakers together with hundreds of credit union leaders to discuss issues affecting the industry. Credit unions also held a record number of meetings on Capitol Hill with members of Congress during the week. In addition to Calabria, NAFCU's Caucus featured:
- CFPB's Kraninger, who detailed the bureau's approach to supervision;
- NCUA's Hood, who shared how the NCUA will support credit unions' success, and Harper, who discussed challenges facing the industry;
- National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director Bill Evanina and Treasury's Brian Peretti, who gave updates on cybersecurity efforts;
- Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, who talked economic trends and administration efforts;
- HUD official Brian Montgomery, who gave the first update on housing finance reform following the release of reform plans;
- experts on the marijuana banking landscape; and
- several lawmakers – including House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio – and Hill staffers who covered small business lending, diversity, housing finance reform, credit unions' good works, and tips for advocacy.
In addition to these meetings, NAFCU continued to strengthen its relationships with the SBA (in meetings and with a new Strategic Alliance Memorandum) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and Berger attended the Global Inclusive Growth Summit with other purpose-driven leaders to explore challenges and strategies in building an inclusive digital economy.
Stay tuned to NAFCU Today for more on the association's advocacy efforts and accomplishments in 2019.