On June 5th GCUA executive leadership met with specific members of Congress in Washington, D.C. These quick Hill visits with key legislators and staff were orchestrated to draw greater attention to the issues that matter to the industry, emphasize the positive work of credit unions in the districts, and grow the connections necessary to help pursue meaningful and positive legislation.
These Congressional visits were focused on the three federal legislators who serve on the Banking Committees: U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R), U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-13), and U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-11). This hyper-focus was by design, as many of the bills that impact the financial services sector go through their respective jurisdiction. In addition to these meetings, the senior leadership from GCUA engaged the newest member of Congress from Georgia, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath (D-6), to help foster a connection for the industry. Rounding out the visits was the long-standing credit union supporter U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-7), who is in his last term of office, and he is a perfect example of why credit unions in Georgia devote so much time to building relationships. But relationships like that are not built overnight; it takes consistent messaging, meeting, and interaction of the credit union industry … hence the mini staff-hike! In addition, while in D.C., staff was able to spend a short time visiting with Senator Johnny Isakson (R) and Rep. Buddy Carter (R-1), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-4) and Rep. Tom Graves (R- 14).
These meetings were at an ideal window of time to reiterate to the three Georgia members of the Banking Committees the need for safe financial options for the legal cannabis-based businesses growing around the country. Georgia was a part of a collective effort by CUNA, the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) and Leagues across the country that wrote to Senate Banking Committee leadership on June 5th to encourage Congress to act on safe banking options for legal cannabis-based businesses. Whether that is supporting the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 (S. 1200) and the banking related provisions in the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act (S. 1028) or other avenues, financial services barriers for credit unions needs to be addressed in Congress as this industry only continues to grow (and is primed to grow in Georgia as well).
In addition, the trip gave staff the opportunity to reiterate the credit union system’s concerns about CECL and how its implementation could cause added stress to smaller financial institutions. Shortly after the group returned home a bipartisan group of House lawmakers – led by Reps. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) – introduced H.R. 3182, a bill calling for a halt to the implementation of the current expected credit loss standard until a quantitative impact study can be completed. Both members of the Georgia delegation who sit on the House Financial Services Committee, Reps. Barry Loudermilk (R-11) and David Scott (D-13), are original co-sponsors of the House bill. A companion bill (S. 1564) was previously introduced in the Senate by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on May 21, 2019, with Sen. David Perdue from our state as one of its original co-sponsors.
Prior to the Hill visits, GCUA sat down with other state Leagues and CUNA on June 4th to discuss collective strategy on a federal level, emerging issues seen in in other state legislatures, grassroots initiatives and campaign efforts. Much as it takes all of the credit unions in Georgia working together to create advocacy success, it takes the various states across the country working together to generate collective intel and coordinate large-scale success on a federal level!