New York CUs bring their message to Capitol Hill

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The New York credit union movement was well-represented on Capitol Hill this week. More than 20 New York credit union advocates were in Washington, D.C., on Monday and Tuesday to meet with leading federal policymakers and lobby on behalf of the state’s credit unions.

Shortly after arriving in Washington on Monday afternoon, attendees headed across the river to NCUA headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. There, the group met with senior NCUA staff, including NCUA Board Chairman Rodney Hood.

Hood addressed a number of topics during his meeting, including the recently finalized Payday Alternative Loan II rule, cannabis banking and the agency’s plans to delay its risk-based capital rule.

Hood noted that the delay in the rule would give the agency additional time to craft a regulation that’s appropriate for credit unions, explaining that it was unnecessary for NCUA to implement a framework that’s similar to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s risk-based capital approach.

He also explained that delaying the RBC rule would provide credit unions with much-needed time to focus on implementing the Current Expected Credit Losses standard.

The chairman also took several questions from attendees, and explained that he does not anticipate initiating new rulemakings on credit union purchases of banks.

Overall, he stressed the need for a measured approach to rulemaking. “I’d like regulations to be effective, but not excessive,” he told the group.

The day concluded with a networking dinner, where the conversation frequently drifted back to the day’s meeting with Hood.

“Meeting with NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood was a highlight of this trip,” said attendee Jennifer Gunn, marketing manager for Teachers FCU. “He has a clear understanding of the New York credit union landscape, and being able to discuss our regulatory priorities with the chairman was vital to our advocacy efforts.”

Tuesday morning began with a legislative briefing led by Kendra Rubin, the New York Credit Union Association’s VP of Governmental Affairs. Rubin prepared the group for the day’s meetings on Capitol Hill with updates on a range of legislative issues, including: a recently introduced overdraft bill, cannabis banking, the CDFI Fund, military base banking, data security, BSA/AML relief, and housing finance reform.

Immediately following the briefing, the credit union advocates began a full-day of legislative meetings with lawmakers and senior staff on Capitol Hill. In total, attendees met with the offices of 19 U.S. House members from New York, including Reps.:

  • Kathleen Rice (D-4);
  • John Katko (R-24);
  • Elise Stefanik (R-21);
  • Anthony Brindisi (D-22);
  • Grace Meng (D-6);
  • Adriano Espaillat (D-13);
  • Antonio Delgado (D-19);
  • José Serrano (D-15);
  • Eliot Engel (D-16);
  • Sean Patrick Maloney (D-18);
  • Peter King (R-2);
  • Max Rose (D-11);
  • Carolyn Maloney (D-14);
  • Paul Tonko (D-20);
  • Thomas Suozzi (D-3);
  • Nydia Velázquez (D-7);
  • Joseph Morelle (D-25);
  • Nita Lowey (D-17); and
  • Brian Higgins (D-26).

Lawmakers and staffers from across the political spectrum expressed support for a number of the issues the advocates raised. Of particular note, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, which would prohibit a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate marijuana-related business, appeared to have strong bipartisan support. The legislation has over 200 co-sponsors, including 15 New York co-sponsors, and could be voted on today.

New overdraft legislation introduced by Carolyn Maloney, the Overdraft Protection Act of 2019, was also a major topic of discussion. The bill would force financial institutions to limit overdraft fees to one per month and six per year. The advocates stressed the credit unions support fair lending and proper disclosures, but cautioned about creating unnecessary burdens on programs consumers want and appreciate.

“After attending GAC and Hike the Hill events with the Association, I am fully aware of the impact that is made when speaking to our representatives on issues that are pertinent to our members and industry,” said attendee Kimberley Ruiz, community development relationship manager at Bethpage FCU. “Without the necessary support from our representatives, we put the credit union industry and all of our members at risk of legislation that is unfavorable to how we operate.”

And while the discussions primarily focused on the credit union movement’s legislative priorities, the meetings also provided attendees with the chance to update their lawmakers on happenings in their district and form local connections.

“Advocacy is a critical part of our movement, and these Hike the Hill events are such an important part of our national legislative affairs efforts,” said Association Board Chairwoman Ann Hynes, CEO of SPX FCU. “When we Hike the Hill, we’re creating strong and lasting relationships with our members of Congress, and showing them we are a powerful, united advocacy force.”

Association President/CEO William J. Mellin, echoed that sentiment:

“I’d like to thank all the credit union advocates who participated in this important and productive Hike the Hill event,” said Mellin. “The strength of our movement comes from our cooperative and collaborative spirit. That spirit was on full display this week in our nation’s capital, and I believe it’s fair to say our federal policymakers took note. The Association looks forward to building on this positive event as we continue our federal advocacy efforts.”

Additional pictures from the event are available on the Association’s Facebook page.

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