Debit Fee Delay Hangs By A Thread

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WASHINGTON – A chief sponsor of the bid to delay debit fee cuts conceded this afternoon his proposal doesn’t have enough votes to pass and he moved instead to change the debit fee proposal to allow the Federal Reserve to consider additional costs, like fraud losses, in its final rule.

“I realize we don’t have 60 votes in this body to just do away with price-fixing,” Tennessee Republican Robert Corker told Senate colleagues just moments ago. “So what I’ve tried to do is seek a better solution than the one that has come forth.”

Debate on the debit bid is starting now and is expected to culminate in a vote sometime tomorrow or Thursday. 

Corker, who has teamed with Montana Democrat in efforts to delay implementation of the debit rule, said a compromise being shopped with fellow senators would allow the Fed to expand the costs it can include in determining a cap on debit fees to allow other costs like fraud and executive wages. “What it really does, the essence of it is, it directs the Fed, instead of setting prices on debit cards based solely on the incremental costs of the transaction, it allows them to consider all costs, both fixed and incremental, something that anybody in this body that happened to be in business certainly would want to be the case,” Corker said.

But Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin, who created the debit cap as part of last year’s Wall Street reform bill, rejected Corker’s proposal and moved towards a filibuster that will require a vote of 60 senators to move the delay in the debit rule.

“It is not a compromise,” Durbin said. “A compromise suggests that both sides came together and agreed on something. There has not been any input from the retailers, small businesses and consumers across America. The only compromise is among big banks and bigger banks in terms of what they’re going to collect on these debit cards.”

Meantime, the Electronic Payment Coalition, a group backed by CUNA, NAFCU, American Bankers Association, Visa and MasterCard, stepped up its multi-million dollar lobby for the debit delay with robocalls to millions of suburban Washington households. The robocalls urged people to contact their congressman to ask for delay in a rule "that will result in high profits for big corporations and higher fees for peope like you."


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