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ICBA, ABA Urge Opposition to Credit Union Power Grab


July 18 - The Independent Community Bankers of America and the American Bankers Association called on all U.S. senators to oppose legislation that would allow tax-exempt credit unions to expand further into business lending. In a joint letter to lawmakers, the associations wrote that legislation to raise the credit union member business lending cap (S. 2231) is counterproductive and controversial even among credit unions.

“This legislation would benefit a select few credit unions while harming taxpaying community banks,” the associations wrote. “Community-based banks are prolific small business lenders and have stood by their customers throughout these difficult economic times. They are helping to expand small business credit as the recovery strengthens and demand returns, and they pay federal, state, and local taxes to support their communities.”

S. 2231 would more than double congressionally imposed limits on credit union business lending authority, permitting growth-obsessed credit unions to use their tax subsidies to cherry-pick loans that taxpaying community banks would gladly make in their communities. This would reduce federal revenues by favoring tax-subsidized credit unions over taxpaying community banks.

Expanding the business-lending authority of tax-exempt credit unions also would increase risks to the financial system. The Government Accountability Office reported in January that failed credit unions had more member business loans as a percentage of assets than others in the industry.

Finally, credit unions themselves are concerned about the push to expand their business-lending authority. In April, several credit union executives voiced their opposition to this legislation. They wrote that the failure of several large credit unions was due to excess business lending, that the industry is unprepared for expanded business-lending authority and that a silent majority of credit unions neither wants nor needs S. 2231.

For more information about ICBA, and to read the joint ICBA/ABA letter, visit