Bankers Take Credit Union Fight to Senate after Setback

By Barancik, Scott | American Banker, April 3, 1998 | Go to article overview

Bankers Take Credit Union Fight to Senate after Setback


Barancik, Scott, American Banker


Less than 24 hours after a humiliating defeat on credit union legislation in the House, banking industry leaders refused to back off long-standing demands during a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

"We believe a line must be drawn which places effective limits on the taxpayer subsidy, and imposes meaningful common bond requirements, safety and soundness regulation, and community investment responsibilities" on credit unions, said R. Scott Jones, chairman and chief executive officer of Goodhue County National Bank, Red Wing, Minn. "Practically speaking, H.R. 1151 does none of these things."

H.R. 1151 is the credit union bill approved Wednesday in the House by a resounding 411-to-8 vote. The measure would reverse a recent Supreme Court decision by allowing occupational-based credit unions to serve any company with fewer than 3,000 employees.

Senate Banking expects to mark up its own credit union bill the week of April 27, using the House bill as its starting point.

Michael S. Vadala, president and CEO of Summit Federal Credit Union, Rochester, N.Y., urged quick passage of legislation restoring the ability of credit unions to add new employer groups.

"Every day that Congress delays in resolving this issue, resources that should be spent or invested for the betterment of American consumers are instead squandered" in legal fees, said Mr. Vadala, who was representing the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

"In the absence of prompt and decisive action by the Congress ratifying the long-standing federal policy permitting multiple-group fields of membership, there is a clear and present danger of seriously undermining consumers' confidence in that system."

Whether bankers can persuade the Senate to change the House bill remains to be seen. But the Senate on the whole is more sympathetic to bankers and it only takes one senator to stall legislation.

"I think the banks are right in not folding their cards right now," observed Bert Ely, a financial services consultant. …

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