CU Support Proves No Guarantee for Victory; House Flips to Dems

WASHINGTON–The House of Representatives has flipped from red to blue following the mid-term elections, but what it might mean to credit unions remains uncertain. 

In the months and especially recent weeks leading up to the election, CUNA’s PAC, the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee (CULAC), poured millions of dollars into so-called Independent Expenditures to back 15 candidates, including $500,000 to support one incumbent who lost his seat. In all, as of this posting, six CU-backed candidates won their races, six were defeated, one candidate will now go to a run-off, and the remaining races remain too close to call.

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As expected, the Senate remains under Republican control following the election, with the GOP picking up two seats to take a 51-45 advantage when the new Congress takes office, but what that could potentially create is more of the “Washington gridlock” so many Americans have said they want to see change if the upper and lower houses of Congress can’t find a way to work together. For financial institutions, it could mean an end to the deregulatory trend in Congress over the past two years under the Republicans, but the divided chambers in Congress could also mean no rollback of that trend, as well.

The Democratic majority in the House–215 to 197 when the new Congress is sworn in in January­, 2019–will mean a change in leadership of all the committees and subcommittees, and a resulting change in the agendas of those committees. It is expected that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) would take over as Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, while Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) is considered the front-runner to chair the Ways and Means Committee.

Where CU Funds Went

As reported earlier, CULAC and NAFCU’s PAC spent more than $8 million in the election cycle leading up to yesterday’s elections, representing a new record in funds raised and spent by credit unions. 

CUNA said it and its state leagues  spent nearly $7 million in this election cycle supporting 388 candidates for the House and Senate, including donations made to candidates in 47 House races in which a seat was open but a candidate who is a credit union supporter had been identified.  

Of that $7 million, $3.6 million was donated via direct candidate contributions by CULAC of up to $5,000 per election (meaning $10,000 if donations were made during both primary and general races), according to VP Political Affairs Trey Hawkins.

The Focus on Fifteen

Here is how the specific candidates backed by credit union independent expenditures fared:

  • Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) defeated Republican challenger Matt Rosendale. 
  • In a big bet that didn’t pay off, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was defeated by Republican challenger Mike Braun. CUNA had put more than a half-million-dollars into an independent expenditure to back Donnelly.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey.
  • Sen. Claire McCaskell (D-MO) lost her seat to Republican Josh Hawley.
  • Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) will now go to a run-off against Democratic challenger Mike Espy, as neither candidate won more than 50% of the vote.
  • Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) defeated Republican challenger Wendy Rogers. 
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) was defeated by Democratic challenger Colin Allred.
  • Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) won his re-election bid, defeating Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval.
  • Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) was defeated by Democratic challenger Lizzie Fletcher.
  • Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) holds an advantage of fewer than 1,000 votes over Democratic challenger Jared Golden, as of this posting. (Maine is the first state in the nation to begin using ranked-choice voting: Instead of selecting just one candidate in a race, voters rank them in order of their preference, and those rankings are used to decide the contest if no candidate receives a majority at the outset.)
  • Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) defeated Democratic challenger Kathy Manning.
  • Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) was defeated by Democrat Sean Casten.
  • Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) won re-election over Democrat Brendan Kelly
  • Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) defeated Democrat Betsy Dirksen in a very close race. 
  • Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) lost to Democrat Lauren Underwood.

In another race many CUs were watching given his history, former BCFP Director Richard Cordray, who resigned from the position to run for governor of Ohio, was defeated by Republican Mike DeWine.

NAFCU Statement on Election

“Credit unions will continue to have a strong seat at the table as we enjoy bipartisan support in Congress,” said NAFCU President Dan Berger following the elections.

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Dan Berger

“Whether working with Republicans, Democrats or Independents, our goal is to achieve an appropriate regulatory environment that provides a tailored approach to regulation, a level playing field, and transparent and independent regulatory oversight for credit unions and the 114 million members they serve.

“Additionally, we will continue to advocate for a strong, stable financial marketplace that is capable of protecting consumers against future economic downturns,” Berger continued. “Consumers as well as small financial institutions, including credit unions, were devastated by the fallout of the bank-led 2008 financial crisis. We will continue to work with Congress to develop bipartisan solutions – such as a modern Glass-Steagall Act – to limit the havoc “too big to fail” financial institutions can beseech on our economy.”

CUNA Statement on Election

Following the election results, CUNA CEO Jim Nussle issued a statement saying, “Credit unions invested a record $7 million into this election to help continue the positive momentum we’ve seen for credit union priorities in Congress.

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Jim Nussle

We’re pleased that we’ll have many friendly faces in the next Congress, and we’ll be working hard from now until then to connect with new members and engage with returning members to advance credit union priorities.” 

CUNA said it will release a white paper on Thursday that provides an in-depth analysis of credit union involvement in the election, what the results mean for credit unions in the next Congress and take a closer look at state-level elections.  

CUNA further said its advocacy will continue its momentum on several top industry priorities including data security, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Government-Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) reform. 

CUNA to Host Post-Election Webinar

CUNA will hold a post-election landscape webinar on Thursday, with CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan, Chief Political Officer Richard Gose, and Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer for Political Action Trey Hawkins offering  a “comprehensive breakdown on how the election results will shape CUNA advocacy efforts going forward,” the association said. Registration is now open for the webinar, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ET) Nov. 8 and is free for CUNA members.

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Copyright Year: 2019
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