Another CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) is officially in the history books! The annual event fostered four days of credit union networking, advocacy, and thoughtful discussion on timely topics relevant to the credit union movement. Maine once again had strong representation at GAC. A large delegation of Maine credit union representatives joined League President/CEO Todd Mason and League Vice President of Governmental Affairs Robert Caverly in Washington, DC.
“Maine continues to send a large number of attendees to the GAC,” said Caverly. “Over the years this continued show of strength has made a tremendous, positive impact on our relationships with our congressional delegation. I’d like to personally thank the over twenty credit unions that participated in GAC events this year. I encourage anyone who hasn’t attended GAC before to strongly consider attending next year.”
Highlights from this year’s trip included a legislative breakfast and policy briefing with Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King, Congressman Jared Golden, and Todd Stein, Senior Policy Advisor to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Maine’s congressional delegation remain strong advocates for the credit union movement. They understand the important role credit unions play in their communities and in people’s lives. They were all impressed with the continued growth of support for Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger. Senator Collins in particular highlighted some of the Campaign’s accomplishment during her remarks to Maine attendees.
On Tuesday, Senator Cory Gardner, Congressman Patrick McHenry, and Congressman Brad Sherman presented during the day’s general session and provided attendees an update on credit union-related legislation.
“You being here in Washington enables policymakers to put real stories and real lives to these complex pieces of regulation and law,” said Congressman McHenry. “You can tell how very simple legislation here becomes very complex in your institution and makes it very expensive for you to provide basic products to your members. Those are the stories you need to tell.”
David Plouffe, President of Policy and Advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and former Campaign Advisor for President Barack Obama also addressed attendees and spoke about the changing face of communications and examined the 2020 election.
“All of you, in your organizations and communities, are trying to find the best way to reach people,” said Plouffe. “I don’t know whether I’m sad about this or not, but it’s the reality. The written word, long videos, podcasts, they all have their place. But if you want to reach people today, particularly anyone under the age of 40, you’ve got to think visual first. Memes, GIFs, and images are ruling the day.”
The event’s keynote was given by former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She highlighted her interactions with credit unions, especially during her years as Governor of South Carolina.
Later that day, NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger discussed transparent, efficient regulations. Attendees also heard from CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle on the importance of collaboration with system partners and Diana Dykstra, Chair of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, who discussed the impact of credit union leagues. During this discussion, Todd Mason joined other league presidents on stage to demonstrate the significant role leagues play in the credit union movement.
On Wednesday, Stephanie Cutter, Founding Partner at Precision Strategies and GOP strategist Nicolle Wallace discussed the 2020 presidential campaign. Cutter served in the Obama Administration and Wallace served under President George W. Bush.
Before adjourning, attendees received an agency update from NCUA Board Member Todd Harper and heard from veteran lawmakers Senator Chuck Grassley, Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, Congresswoman Katie Porter, Congressman Steve Stivers, and Congresswoman Ann Wagner. Congresswoman Porter announced her plans to introduce legislation to modernize the Federal Credit Union Act. Her proposal would change the requirement that credit union boards meet once a month to not more than six times per year.
“Credit unions play an essential role in our banking ecosystem,” said Congresswoman Porter. “We need to help credit unions continue to thrive and provide necessary services to our communities, which means that we need to tailor regulatory requirements to their unique size and needs. I’m proud to introduce legislation to do just that.”
Many Maine GAC attendees participated in CUNA’s Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) Sweepstakes to help raise funds to support credit union friendly candidates. Two Mainers won prizes for their participation in the CULAC Sweepstakes. In addition, Evergreen CU’s Danielle Dulac was selected by CUNA and The Cooperative Trust to participate in Crash the GAC, which provides credit union professionals under the age of 35 the chance to attend the GAC and meet with credit union executives and thought leaders from across the country.
For a complete recap of coverage, videos, and photos from the 2020 GAC, visit CUNA’s website.