The Triumphant Return of GAC

This week, nearly 60 representatives from Maine credit unions and the League participated in CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). The 2022 GAC marked the return of an in-person GAC following a virtual GAC in 2021 due to pandemic restrictions and concerns.

This year’s theme for GAC was “Financial Well-Being for All” and it included ten policy priorities that CUNA will be pursuing with congressional leaders. Several of the top priorities include items that would expand credit union powers, through modernization or through expanded capabilities to help serve the underserved, especially in rural and economically depressed areas of our nation.

The League engaged with our Maine congressional delegation through our “Mornings In Maine” virtual program. This allowed GAC in-person attendees and staff in Maine to both participate and hear directly from our delegation. The program also featured two guest speakers. Former Congressman David Emery, who spoke about how political redistricting efforts work in Maine, and Maine Public’s Steve Mistler who addressed the upcoming 2022 political campaigns and what is currently happening at the state house.

Following their regular updates of what is going on in the halls of Congress, each member emphasized a key point to our credit union advocates. Senator King spoke about the importance of strong cybersecurity, especially during a time of potential increased threats coming from overseas. Senator Collins spoke very passionately about credit unions and continuing the important work they do serving the people of Maine. Congresswoman Pingree was supportive of credit unions finding ways to assist the underserved, like marijuana-related businesses. And, Congressman Golden discussed the work he is doing on trying to improve the Small Business Administration. He also encouraged credit unions to engage with his office to share their experiences and feedback. All four members commented that they were looking forward to meeting with credit union advocates in-person soon.

One emotional and powerful moment during GAC occurred when the Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova joined the conference virtually to thank attendees for their support as their country continues to battle for their freedom.

The 2022 GAC was successful in bringing back credit union advocates from around the country to engage with their colleagues, share their stories and challenges, and advocate with elected and regulatory officials in Washington, DC. Next year’s GAC will almost certainly prove to be a bigger and stronger event than 2022, as more credit union representatives return to traveling and in-person meetings become more routine.