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Interchange delay legislation fails Senate vote

In a bid to delay the implementation of the Durbin amendment limiting interchange fees, a vote on a compromised amendment put forth by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) fell short by six votes. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the sponsor of the amendment to cap interchange fees, invoked Senate rules requiring at least 60 votes to pass or face a filibuster. The final vote was 54-45. All four of the senators from Alabama and Florida voted in favor of the Tester/Corker amendment.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) released a statement before the vote saying, “I strongly support the Tester/Corker legislation. Even though it does not eliminate the price controls established by the Durbin Amendment, it is a step in the right direction. I firmly opposed the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act because I do not believe that regulators should set prices. Price controls violate the fundamental principles of free markets. The Tester/Corker legislation will help alleviate the problems caused by the Durbin Amendment by requiring the Federal Reserve Board to consider all of the costs incurred in providing debit cards. In the future, I hope Congress will reconsider the Durbin Amendment and eliminate all price controls. Furthermore, we must continue to thoroughly examine all aspects of Dodd-Frank that produce similar adverse consequences for our economy and seek to eliminate them where possible.”

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney expressed his disappointment following the vote.

"We have emphasized repeatedly that the interchange rules the Fed has proposed, unless significant changes are made, will impose a severe hardship on credit unions with debit card programs, draining the revenue they need to offset the costs of providing card services. Much as they would prefer not to, credit unions will have no recourse but to make up these costs by imposing new fees or service restrictions on their members. How are consumers better off under this scenario? The plain fact is they are not."

The Federal Reserve has until July 21 to adopt a final rule. The proposed rule released earlier this year would cap the interchange fees at 12 cents per transaction.