Consensus: Nothing Gets Done in D.C. without It

By Simmons, Harris H. | ABA Banking Journal, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Consensus: Nothing Gets Done in D.C. without It


Simmons, Harris H., ABA Banking Journal


ABA'S JUST-COMPLETED NATIONAL Conference for Community Bankers reminded me that one of ABA's most important missions is to pull bankers together in mutually rewarding and productive ways.

That can be at conferences or it can take the form of rallying bankers to write to members of Congress, as more than 90,000 of us have done to prevent passage of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvement Act.

The case has often been made that ABA's single most important purpose is to build consensus in the banking industry. When Congress senses division or disagreement within an industry, our senators and representatives use that division as a convenient excuse not to act. Financial modernization, for example, didn't happen until the banking, securities and insurance associations were able to reach agreement. Bankruptcy reform also took broad industry consensus in order to be enacted. Pulling bankers together helps us oppose expansion by the Farm Credit System, stand up against the real estate lobby, work together on regulatory reform and meet many other shared objectives.

So it makes sense that your national association--working closely with the state bankers associations--works to achieve broad consensus wherever possible in order to leverage our grassroots capabilities into legislative wins. For example, state and association leaders gather usually twice a year, for the ABA Spring Summit and the ABA Summer Meeting, to strengthen the ABA-state bankers association Alliance and work together on the issues that matter to us all. Whenever we can achieve consensus, we win. We win because members of Congress know that ABA's positions on the issues come from--and are supported by--bankers from every corner of our industry, every state, and every type and size of financial institution. …

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