Credit Unions Win First Round in Military Base Rent Fight

Credit unions won the first round in their annual battle with banks over free rent benefits on military bases.

The House Armed Services Committee released its version of the FY22 defense authorization bill. The legislation does not extend the free rent benefits credit unions now receive to banks. Current law provides credit unions with free rent on military bases as long as 95% of the membership serviced by the branch are military members. Banks are not provided with the same benefit.

The release of the House bill is just the first step in the process. The House is scheduled to mark up its defense bill on Sept. 1, so a member of the Armed Services Committee could offer an amendment on banker rent during that meeting. In the past, the House Armed Services Committee has not included bank rent in their annual defense bill.

The wild card is the Senate.

The Senate Armed Services Committee conducted its markup in secret last month and the panel has not released its bill yet. In some years, the Senate version of the defense authorization bill has extended rent benefits to banks. However, that provision always has been dropped in conference.

Tony Hernandez, president/CEO of the Defense Credit Union Council, said he was pleased with the House committee decision. “Credit unions have earned their place on military installations and continue to serve those who serve our country,” Hernandez told the Washington Credit Union Daily.

In the past, banking trade groups have said that banks are leaving military bases because of high rents.

Hernandez said that credit unions can fill that gap. “If banks choose to leave military installations, credit unions are ready, willing and able to fill the gaps since defense credit unions have done so for many years,” he said.

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