House Members: Give Free Rent to Credit Unions, But Not Banks

As the House and Senate try to hammer out differences between the House and Senate versions of the massive defense authorization bill, 50 House members are asking conferees not to extend to banks the same free rent benefits that credit unions now receive on military bases.

The Senate version of the defense bill calls for parity between banks and credit unions on military bases. The House version does not include that provision.

With the House and Senate jammed up with other matters and lawmakers wanting to go home to campaign, the annual Defense Authorization bill might not be settled until a lame duck session after the election.

The fight between credit unions and banks has emerged as an annual fight between the two sectors of the financial services committee.

The bipartisan letter sent late last week, was spearheaded by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Paul Cook (R-Calif.).

The Senate provision “would empower for-profit banks to be allotted space or leased land on the military installation without charge for rent or services in the same manner as a credit union organized under state or federal law,” the lawmakers wrote.

Under current law, banks may seek waivers for the cost of leases and fees on military bases, they continued.

They said that the Defense Department has not requested the change and that last year’s Defense Authorization bill did not extend the rent benefits to banks.

Credit unions currently receive free rent on military bases as long as 95% of the membership served by the branch are military members.

Banking trade groups have said they have been leaving military bases—depriving those living on the bases a choice in how they want to obtain financial services.

Two years ago, banks and credit unions said they had reached a deal, but a drafting error in the defense bill would have thrown credit unions off bases. Before that provision could be corrected, the deal fell apart.

Related:

House Committee Approves Defense Bill That Would Provide Credit Unions—But Not Banks—With Free Rent

Senate Defense Bill Requires Banks, Credit Unions to Be Treated Equally on Military Bases

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