Bill To Delay Interchange Rule Inches Closer To Filibuster-Proof Majority

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WASHINGTON – Credit union and banking lobbyists were confident last night they were moving closer to the 60 votes necessary in the Senate to delay the debit fee rule, but the measure was not expected to be attached to a sure-thing small business bill being debated yesterday.

The bill to delay the debit rule as long as two years was not included in the 10 amendments to a popular small business bill being voted last night, but credit union lobbyists still were hoping to near the 60 votes needed to overcome an expected filibuster by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the author of the debit fee rule.

“I’ve heard anything from 52 to 57, but there are 20 votes that could go either way,” John Magill, chief lobbyist for CUNA said last night.

“We’re close,” Magill told Credit Union Journal.

The growing support to delay the controversial measure bodes well going forward, whether the bill is attached as an amendment to another bill or voted by itself, according to Brad Thaler, senior lobbyist for NAFCU. “The challenge is finding a vehicle that is moving that will be enacted by July 21 [the implementation deadline for the debit rule] or getting a vote on it in the Senate. We’ll have to try and get our opportunities when they emerge.”

Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat who sponsored the delay bill, told fellow senators during debate yesterday they ought to allow the Federal Reserve to study the debit fees rule because of the unintended consequences it will have on the entities that were supposed to be exempt from the rule – credit unions and community banks. “This could result in community banks going out of business altogether – the same goes for credit union,” said Tester.

House leaders also contemplating a bill to delay the rule said yesterday they will wait until the issue is resolved in the Senate, where it originated with Sen. Durbin. Durbin told his Senate colleagues yesterday there is no need to delay the cuts in debit fees scheduled for big banks to go into effect July 21 and that protections for exempt credit unions and banks should be adequate in the Fed’s rule.


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