As Congress Debates Relief Bill, Leagues Keep CUs at Forefront

Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Congress returned from a recess this week, and passage of a massive stimulus bill to address the current state of the nation’s health and economic crises is top of mind. The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues will provide regular updates in daily messages and the Advocacy Blog when consensus emerges.

Here is a current synopsis:

In a State of Play
In May, the House of Representatives, controlled by the Democrats, passed a massive $3 trillion package known as the HEROS Act. The Senate, controlled by Republicans (GOP), have been working through implementation of the stimulus provided under the CARES Act. Both chambers and parties have agreed that now is the time for another round of stimulus funds.

Each Chamber, plus the White House, have outlined markers for their preferences. As of last week, several items from the GOP counterproposal to the HEROs Act began to circulate. The Democratic Party maintains its positions in the HEROs Act as the party’s markers. The White House has advocated only one provision, a payroll tax holiday, which has not been well-received by Congress.

Senate Republicans have announced their concept package, which is expected to be released publicly on Monday. There is no indication this can pass the Senate or the Democratic-led House. Negotiations will continue.

Policy and CUs
The GOP Package is likely to include:

  • Language for a liability plan to protect employers that follow public health guidelines shielding them from investigations and claims under labor and employment laws regarding the COVID-19 virus.

  • A reduction, not elimination, and a likely bridge of the full $600 per week unemployment benefit. There are currently several bipartisan and intra-party options being considered.

  • (Rumored) Another round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP) or direct stimulus checks; eligibility is to-be-determined.

  • Additional and expanded tax breaks for employers.

For credit unions, the Leagues have advocated the following be included in this package:

  • Inclusion of the Menendez-Sinema-Cramer Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness bill (S. 4117), which grants forgiveness to all PPP loans under $150,000 with conditions. Late Friday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced support for the concept, although he said the dollar amount and audit details need to be considered. The Senate GOP has signaled its support for this as well.

  • Mr. Sherman and Chairwoman Waters’ bill, H.R. 6789. It provides credit unions a safe harbor from the business lending cap for one year and expands the Central Liquidity Facility’s borrowing authority through 2021.

  • Extension of Section 4013 of the CARES Act regarding the booking of Troubled Debt Restructures through June 2021.

  • A national law against garnishing EIP/stimulus funds, as well as liability protections for credit unions when doing so.

This does not include the additional issues credit unions continue to advocate for, such as charter enhancements and exempting federally chartered credit unions from being treated as federal instrumentalities.
 
What to Expect
The reality of the politics of many of the objectives of both parties means a certain degree of drama that can only be played out in the world’s greatest deliberative body. The Leagues anticipate the following:

  • Once the Senate GOP bill is live, expect a lot of noise from both sides about the contents of proposals by each party and Chamber.

  • Expect at least one partisan test vote to show that the package cannot gain enough consensus for a path to law.

  • Expect amendments and messaging bills to be considered, as well as non-germane issues.

  • Expect some tweets and headlines from both sides.

  • Lastly, expect some elements of partisan rhetoric regarding deliberations and negotiations.

Please note that the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Leagues are deeply engaged with California and Nevada representatives on all aspects of these bills. CUNA and the Leagues have been engaged for some time now in building consensus on credit union priorities, which will certainly not be covered in the news media or even the industry trade press.

If you have any questions during this time, please feel free to reach out to Bob Arnould or Jeremy Empol in the Leagues’ Advocacy Department. The Leagues will keep you up to speed as action occurs.

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