January 22, 2021

NAFCU weighs in on next round of pandemic response as Biden administration, new Congress get underway

Capitol HillAs work on Capitol Hill begins under President Joe Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress, NAFCU's award-winning advocacy team is maintaining close contact to ensure decision makers are aware of credit unions' efforts in their communities and opportunities to provide the industry with additional tools to support recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger wrote Biden Thursday to congratulate him and Vice President Kamala Harris and offer insights into the credit union difference.

"Credit unions, as not-for profit, cooperative financial institutions, are unlike for-profit banks and other financial institutions," Berger wrote. "Their guiding principle is always that the best interest of their members comes first. All credit union members have an equal say in the operation of their credit union, no matter the dollar amount on deposit. Credit unions are also different because they are more diverse than other financial institutions, with three times more credit union minority depository institutions (MDIs) than bank MDIs and ten times as many female CEOs in credit unions than in banks.

"Credit unions strive to represent their communities and provide the highest quality products and services to help their communities thrive," Berger added.

Berger further detailed how credit unions have stepped up to support their 123 million members and communities amid the coronavirus pandemic – by waiving fees, offering loan modifications, providing small business loans through the paycheck protection program, and more – and the association's priorities to provide the industry with additional support to better serve members recovering from the crisis.

In addition, NAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to urge inclusion of credit union-sought provisions in the next coronavirus relief package.

Thaler highlighted measures that will help credit unions better serve their members, including related to:

  • capital flexibility under the Federal Credit Union (FCU) Act similar to what banks were provided in the CARES Act;
  • additional investment authorities for federal credit unions;
  • relief under the member business lending (MBL) cap;
  • improving Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs;
  • extending credit unions' loan maturity limits under the FCU Act;
  • allowing all credit unions to add underserved areas to their fields of membership;
  • modernizing the E-SIGN Act; and
  • protecting credit unions with liability protections.

Thaler also called for some previous relief provisions to be extended or made permanent, including expanded access to the NCUA's Central Liquidity Facility (CLF), deposit insurance, and relief from the current expected credit loss (CECL) standard, and cautioned against some efforts that could hinder credit unions' abilities to serve their members.

NAFCU will continue to work closely with the Biden administration, Congress, and regulators to seek tools that allow credit unions and their members to recover from the pandemic and thrive.