WASHINGTON — Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has reintroduced legislation that would allow states to cap the interest rates on credit cards used by their residents.
Although the measure is not expected to pass Congress, it marks the renewal of a push by a group of Senate Democrats to get around a landmark 1978 Supreme Court decision that has long rankled consumer advocates.
Under the Supreme Court decision, national banks must comply with the lending laws of the states where their credit cards are issued, but not the lending laws of other states where their customers live.
"This legislation would restore historic, long-standing states' rights to protect consumers from improperly high interest rates," Whitehouse, D-R.I., said in a press release.
His legislation is being co-sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Jack Reed, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Mark Begich, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Sen. Al Franken.
The legislation, which is strongly opposed by the credit-card industry, was last considered by the Senate in 2010 as an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act. It failed by a 60-35 margin, at a time when Democrats held six more Senate seats than they do today.
Analysts said its chances today remain dim.
"We believe this news presents more of a headline risk vs. there being actual risk that this legislation gets passed," Keefe, Bruyette and Woods wrote in a research note. "We think the likelihood of the Whitehouse bill passing Congress is quite low."