Bid To Speed Vote On Interchange Delay Bill

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WASHINGTON – The chief sponsor of a Senate bill to delay the interchange rule for as long as two years maneuvered last night to ease passage of the controversial measure by attaching it to popular legislation on small business investment.

It was unclear when the amendment will be voted but backers of the interchange delay believe their best bet to move the bill is by attaching it to another bill likely to pass.

Either way, the delay effort is expected to be filibustered by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, the chief sponsor of the interchange provision, which means a vote to delay the interchange rule will require 60 Senate votes.

Backers of a delay hope to convince Congress to suspend the rules to cap interchange fees on debit cards for as long as two years while the complicated fee proposals, including a two-tiered system, are studied.

Last night’s Senate maneuvering came after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress the Fed will not be able to meet an April 21 deadline to complete a final interchange rule, as required by last year’s Wall Street reform bill, because it still is sifting through more than 11,000 public comments on the controversial proposal. But the Fed still expects to meet a July 21 deadline for implementation of a final rule, Bernanke told lawmakers.

The stakes in the interchange battle are huge – with merchants paying banks and credit unions an estimated $20 billion a year of debit fees. As much as $2.5 billion of that goes to credit unions.


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