The success of credit union advocacy in 2021 has been nothing short of remarkable, CUNA Advocacy Director Ryan Donovan told attendees of the Wisconsin Credit Union League’s 2022 State Government Affairs Conference in Madison. .
While Donovan thinks the success of 2021 prepares credit union advocates well for 2022, he envisions it to be a tough year. November will bring elections, with the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives up in the air, as well as 34 seats in the Senate.
The Senate is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, while Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House.
“It’s not just any election, it’s the first half term after a new president takes office, and traditionally the president’s party loses seats in their first half term.” , Donovan said, adding that the next election is even more complicated because it is the first half term. election after redistricting.
“A number of pundits would say the redistricting was pretty much a washout or maybe the Democrats took advantage of the redistricting process,” he says. “That remains to be seen. On paper, the Republicans certainly appear to have the advantage in the redistricting process, and because of all of these factors, they have an advantage heading into the November election.
If that happens, the window of opportunity for Democrats to push legislation forward appears to be closing. Donovan expects more action from federal regulators to steer policy in the direction of the Biden administration and to entice grassroots voters to turn themselves in.
“That should be of considerable concern to us,” Donovan says. “Because it will look like aggressive action through rulemaking or enforcement from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and potentially aggressive action from the NCUA.”
That’s why Donovan preaches 360-degree advocacy, not only leaning on Congress to fix credit union problems, but also seeing if advocates can saturate policymakers with their message and make progress through the regulatory process, state legislators and the legal arena.
The CUNA-League advocacy program aims to do five things: protect and reflect credit union priorities, expand and protect credit union powers and opportunities, reduce regulatory barriers, improve credit union relevance for members and preserve the tax status of credit unions.
“Advocacy is not a sport to be watched, it is something that requires participation,” says Donovan.
He suggests participating in the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, the National Advocacy Fund, Project Zip Code, Hike the Hill, and the Member Activation Program.
“All of these important efforts help us tell the story of how credit unions strive to improve the financial well-being of their members and advance the communities they serve,” says Donovan. “How does your credit union measure the impact it has on your community and your members? How do you tell this story?