The 2020 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) concluded on Wednesday after four days of networking, advocacy, and thoughtful discussion in our nation’s capital. A large delegation from Maine, led by Maine Credit Union League President/CEO Todd Mason, traveled to Washington, DC, for the annual event. 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.
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 Adviser 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.
“As governor, I will tell you that credit unions were some of my biggest partners. What I love about credit unions is they’re more about families and community and they truly get the customer service side of things,” said Haley. “But the time I appreciated them the most was when we would have a hurricane, or a thousand-year flood, or any of those types of things. Our credit union stepped up every single time, wanting to help, wanting to volunteer, wanting to be a part. That’s the fondness I have for credit unions.”
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 while 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.”
For a complete recap of coverage, videos, and photos from the 2020 GAC, visit CUNA’s website.