Congressman Shares ‘Why’ He Supports Credit Unions

Colonel (retired) and Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA)
Colonel (retired) and Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA)

Colonel Paul Cook, republican congressman for California’s 8th Congressional District, has long championed credit union issues. As a current member of Congress, he wanted to share his progress on credit union issues with members of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues:

Every year I spend in Congress, I speak to constituents, veterans, and current members of the military to listen to their concerns and help them work toward solutions. As a congressman, I’m obligated to do more for our veterans than simply thank them for their service. I must ensure that our nation gives them the opportunities to succeed in civilian life in return for the sacrifices they and their families made for the sake of our country. One of my key focuses has been to ensure that veterans, as well as currently serving members of our armed services, have access to the financial tools they need for both their personal lives and their businesses.

Earlier this year, I partnered with Rep. Vicente Gonzalez to introduce bipartisan legislation to encourage them to become entrepreneurs. H.R. 3866 would amend the Federal Credit Union Act to make it easier for veterans to get access to small business loans from credit unions. The purpose is to help veterans start or finance their small businesses by removing restrictions on credit union asset caps. By raising lending caps, veterans will gain additional access to capital. The military cultivates discipline, organizational skills, and an entrepreneurial spirit in its members. Service-oriented credit unions are uniquely qualified to advise and help these veterans fulfill their professional dreams. Lifting this arbitrary federal restriction is a simple and effective way to allow veterans to start businesses, expand operations, create jobs, and stimulate our economy.

I also led an effort to strengthen the effectiveness of the Military Lending Act (MLA) in protecting service members and their dependents. Currently, the MLA prevents bad actors from taking advantage of service members during difficult financial situations. Unfortunately, overly complicated regulatory changes to the law have created barriers that limited military access to credit union products. I’m working with the Department of Defense to remedy the issues that inhibit lending from credit unions, while urging strong support for focusing protections against predatory lenders.

For elected officials, supporting our military and veterans must be more than lip service and posing for photo opportunities. We need to find effective ways to lend a helping hand or give a needed boost to servicemembers seeking to start successful civilian careers. Measures like expanding veteran and military access to loans and other products and services from credit unions goes beyond saying, “thank you for your service” by taking concrete action to help them integrate into their communities and continue their service to our nation.

(Col. Cook currently holds seats on the House Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Foreign Affairs Committees)

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