Wisconsin's Moore Withdraws Co-Sponsorship of CURIA

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U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) said concerns that some "enormous credit unions are acting more and more like traditional banks'' prompted her recent withdrawal as a co-sponsor of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvement Act (H.R. 2317). Still, the Wisconsin league says it's hopeful it can sway her to support the bill once she has more facts.

"The good news is that the day she withdrew, three others signed on,'' said Tom Liebe, director of governmental affairs at WCUL. "That shows that we're gaining some great momentum and things are going well.''

While there is no set date for hearings on CURIA, Liebe said, he hopes the Financial Services Committee will hold hearings "in short order.''

The legislation, introduced by Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) is similar to legislation the duo introduced during the last session of Congress. It includes provisions that would modernize net worth standards and provides credit unions with limited relief from specific outdated regulatory burdens.

Liebe said he was disappointed by Moore's change of heart and suspected that it was prompted by a "variety of pressures'' from the banking industry even before she was elected.

Moore sent a statement defending her actions The Credit Union Journal.

"When I initially considered cosponsoring CURIA, the basis for my decision was my familiarity with the nearly 300 credit union[s] in Wisconsin that are primarily small, have a narrowly defined membership base, and claim less than $100 million in assets,'' she stated.

She added she was "very supportive of the mission of those credit unions'' and pointed out that as a VISTA volunteer she "led a fight'' to start the Cream City CDCU after discovering people in her neighborhood were being ignored by banks.

"However, I have become concerned with the continued growth of the nation's larger credit unions-the 99 institutions that claim more than $1 billion in assets,'' her statement read. "I am not yet prepared to expand their lending capability by at least $77 million each at this time, when there is a concern that some of these enormous credit unions are acting more and more like traditional banks.''

Brett Thomspon, CEO of WCUL said Moore apparently did not have all the facts when she reneged on her promise to support CURIA.

"We're sure Rep. Moore was not aware of the complete picture when she withdrew her co-sponsorship and we believe that she will act in the best interest of her constituents by supporting CURIA once she has more information,'' Thompson said. "For example, the average Wisconsin credit union business loan is only $78,430 and credit unions collectively have only 1.31% of the business lending market.''

Liebe said initial comments from Moore during candidate surveys prior to her election gave the WCUL every indication that she would co-sponsor the bill.

"She made very positive statements about the credit unions and credit union improvements,'' he said. "Anyone who read them would walk away feeling that she was going to co-sponsor the bill.''

Liebe said he has been in contact with Moore's staff in recent days and expects to meet with her during the August recess.

"We hope to meet with Rep. Moore as soon as possible to once again count her among the many supporters of this important legislation,'' he said.

"We believe Rep. Moore was right on the mark in previous comments she's made in support of CURIA and its obvious value for her constituents.''

He suggested that other CU supporters use the Congressional recess to make contact with representatives on their own turf and urge their support for CURIA.

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