Co-ops respond to Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States

US co-operatives congratulated the president elect, while reiterating their commitment to bipartisan co-operative reforms

Joe Biden won the US presidential election after securing more than 270 Electoral College votes on Saturday, 7 November.

The US co-operative sector was quick to congratulate the president elect, while reiterating its commitment to bipartisan co-operative reforms.

Mr Biden, who will take over from Donald Trump as the 46th president on 20 January 2021, made a series of co-operative pledges in his campaign manifesto. These included “historic procurement and investments to bring the future within reach for big utilities and rural co-operatives” and exploring the use of land trusts, co-operative farm operations, and farm credit systems geared towards black, brown, Native American and Latino farmers.

He is also a well-known supporter of credit unions, having championed their role in development through the Development Education (Biden-Pell) Project Grant in 1981.

Responding to the election result, the National Association of Federally-insured Credit Unions (Nafcu) congratulated Mr Biden and called for “meaningful, bipartisan reform, to put the needs of Americans ahead of partisanship, and to empower credit unions to serve and strengthen our economy.”

Nafcu President and CEO Dan Berger said: “We congratulate president-elect Biden on his election to become the 46th president of the United States of America. Today, Americans continue to grapple with the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic and economic uncertainties. We encourage president-elect Biden to work with Congress to deliver meaningful, bipartisan reform, to put the needs of Americans ahead of partisanship, and to empower credit unions to serve and strengthen our economy.

Related: US elections: Biden vs Trump from a co-operative perspective

“NAFCU looks forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress in a unified manner to ensure credit unions remain a strong financial lifeline and community partner for the millions of Americans needing financial assistance during these uncertain times.”

Writing in CUInsight last week as the results came in, Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the National Credit Union Association (Cuna), highlighted that credit unions’ political work was “fundamental to advocacy efforts”.

He said that Cuna, local credit union leagues, and credit unions had invested US$7m throughout the election cycle to support credit union champions. He pointed out that credit union members needed champions “regardless of who holds the White House or which party controls a chamber of Congress”, and called on the sector to “come together to continue advocating for the credit union system”.

“Cuna congratulates president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris for their victory. We look forward to working with Mr Biden’s administration to advance the credit union mission and increase financial well-being of American consumers,” said Mr Nussle.

Electric co-operatives have also expressed interest in the president-elect’s agenda on ensuring economic recovery post Covid-19. NRECA is currently supporting its members in the development of the next Covid-19 relief package. The apex also expressed interest in working to shape the $2tn plan set forward by Mr Biden in his campaign to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector by 2035 and replace fossil fuels with renewables. But NRECA believes that the divided Congress could impact the plan’s implementation and said it would evaluate details based on “the tenets of affordability, reliability and resiliency”.

In his campaign Mr Biden also pledged to build the next generation of electric grid transmission and distribution, by “re-powering of lines that already exist with new technology”. He said he would “leverage the breakthroughs in energy storage over the last decade with historic procurement and investments to bring the future within reach for big utilities and rural co-operatives”.

“Our long-standing approach – to work in a bipartisan fashion with lawmakers – is going to continue to be important,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Regardless of who is in control of the Congress, we feel good about the champions that we’ve worked with on both sides of the aisle. No piece of legislation we’ve ever championed has been partisan, and we will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats alike,” he added.

On behalf of co-ops across the country, the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA-Clusa) said it was “ready to work with the co-operative community to ensure policymakers understand how co-ops are the preferred strategy to empower people in their businesses and communities”.

The apex has recently released a new report from the Urban Institute called “Policy Strategies to Build a More Inclusive Economy with Cooperatives,” which explains how federal, state and local policies can advance the role of co-ops in building “healthy, equitable and sustainable communities”.

To continue this conversation, NCBA is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, November 10 to consider what the election results might mean for the policy priorities of the co-operative community.

“Now is the time for the co-operative community to step forward as a proven strategy to build an economy that is equitable and includes everyone,” said Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of Ncba-Clusa.