Early last month, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HR 1151, the credit union wish list bill, which would overturn the February Supreme Court decision declaring that credit unions had overstepped their membership boundaries. In writing the bill, the speaker of the house and the House Banking Committee defiantly sidestepped the banking industry's requests to rein in the credit union industry's illegal expansion of the common bond, while cutting back credit unions' commercial lending powers.
April, however, was not a total washout. We were successful at derailing Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in his effort to tie the anti-banking credit union bill with the anti-banking financial restructuring bill (HR 10), which would have meant double jeopardy for community banks.
The credit union wish list is now in the hands of the nation's senators. In early April, K. Reid Pollard, president and CEO of Randolph Bank and Trust in Asheboro, N.C., testified before the Senate Banking Committee and dubbed the AT&T Family Federal Credit Union a "taxfree NationsBank." He couldn't be more right. But your senators need to hear from more bankers than just Reid Pollard. They need to hear from you.
And as chairman of the Credit Union Coordinating Committee, which spans the IBAA, the ABA and the ACB, I am playing a hands-on role in devising a common strategy to meet the credit union threat.
At the Annual Convention and Techworld in Honolulu, we announced a $1 million banker fly-in campaign, whereby we would pay for the airfare and hotel accommodations of all community bankers who could make appointments with their representatives in Washington, D.C., and fight the credit union bill. Hundreds of community bankers from around the country have met this challenge and have marched up to Capitol Hill and told their side of the story. …