Bronco Federal Credit Union CEO Brian Hedgepeth, joined by staff members Pam Vaughan and Pam Lease, met with Rep. Randy Forbes on Wednesday as part of our effort to stay in touch with lawmakers during the August recess.
Advocates began the meeting seeking the Congressman’s current stance on the credit union tax status.
“I have always supported credit unions,” Rep. Forbes said, repeating what he often says to us during his Congressional Luncheon appearances: at credit unions, members aren’t numbers.
Forbes gave his perspective on what may happen on the House side on tax reform. House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Camp has said he wants to bring up tax reform in October. Forbes said September will be a very volatile month in Congress, with only nine legislative days scheduled and some sides gearing toward a government shutdown in a showdown on fiscal issues.
In that environment, Forbes said his concern is whether there will be closed door meetings where revenue sources, such as the credit union tax exemption, may be put on the table. He urged credit union advocates to be vigilant and promised that he would be, too.
On other matters, Hedgepeth updated the Congressman on Bronco’s member business lending (MBL) program, noting that the credit union had been so successful in meeting the capital needs of local businesses that it quickly reached its cap and had to retrench.
“The cap hurt us from a profitability standpoint because lending is our No. 1 source of growth,” Hedgepeth explained.
Bronco is offering member business loans again, but on a smaller scale.
Forbes said he agrees that credit unions fill a good niche in MBL, but he doesn’t see legislation moving this year to increase the cap. He doesn’t believe MBL could progress as a separate bill and acknowledges that credit unions are in a difficult position with banks threatening to kill their own legislation if it is paired with a credit union bill. He said credit unions have to find a vehicle for the MBL issue, and his office will monitor legislation to see if it can identify an opportunity.
In other discussion, Bronco noted concern over fees attached in the qualified mortgage rule. Forbes noted that he is co-sponsoring H.R. 1077, a bill that would address the fee issue. He said that bill won’t progress as a standalone, but since it has been incorporated into the House version of GSE reform, it has a good chance of passage.
Finally, discussion touched upon the desire of financial institutions to make merchants bear some of the burden of data breaches at point-of-sale. Forbes said that Congress has been grappling with cybersecurity issues. “We’re trying,” he said.